ProjectArt is filling a gap in the American public school system by adding initiatives in New Orleans and San Francisco this fall. Getting to know art gives us the tools to get to know ourselves and others better. It boosts our self-esteem, helps us communicate, and improves our academic or professional performance in our lives.
This has been said by various studies, including one report published earlier this year by the Institute for Urban Studies at Rice University. However, since the 1980s, access to arts education for American schoolchildren has been declining, especially in school districts with large minority populations.
According to the latest survey by the New York Comptroller, more than 400 public schools in the city do not have adequate access to art. According to the latest estimates from the National Endowment for the Arts, about four million young people in the United States are not receiving an arts education.
But although the American public school system fails kids, nonprofit organizations are filling the void. And one of them has ambitious plans to become one of the largest free art programs for children in the country.
ProjectArt is an initiative founded by Adarsh Alfons in Harlem in 2011.
At the beginning of the 2019 school year, ProjectArt is rolling out to New Orleans and San Francisco. This opened up access to art in two cities with large communities of homeless young people and ensured a presence for the organization in just eight cities in the United States. By 2021, ProjectArt plans to roll out in ten cities.
By 2021, ProjectArt plans to roll out in ten cities. Its chief executive, Diana Buckley Muchmore, who has run the organization’s day-to-day operations since November last year, volunteered for ProjectArt from the start, and one incident impressed her on the impact art can have on child development. With her friend Alphonse teaching a class of ten students at the Harlem Community Center, Buckley Muchmore met a boy named Malikai.
She remembers that he was non-verbal, very quiet, but she contacted him through the sculpture he was making out of foil, and through this art, he slowly began to open up to describe his work. At that moment, she realized that this is a very powerful tool for children with a speech barrier.
Since then, Buckley Moochmore has watched ProjectArt apply the 2012 partnership model with the country’s public library systems.
Libraries provide them with free space, access to existing communities, and materials that inspire creativity in children. She says that there are 16,000 public libraries in the United States; there are 14,000 Starbucks – to give you an idea of the scale of libraries.
Artist-teachers who are competitively reviewed and interviewed receive a studio at the library, in addition to being paid, and do their own work throughout the year, often in collaboration with students. Students showcase their work at an exhibition at the end of the academic year.
Meanwhile, the organization is working to meet the special needs (and capitalize on the assets) of its emerging cities. Buckley Muchmore says that in San Francisco, they found “a lot of disadvantaged minority youth in the Tenderloin area,” a community from which they will recruit for their program.
She also looks after major companies like Airbnb and Adobe, which she hopes to turn to for corporate funding. The organization also receives grants from foundations and private donors.
In New Orleans, another city with many homeless youths supported by the organization through partnerships with shelters, classes will be taught by the Milagros Collective and used in the city’s annual Mardi Gras celebrations.
For now, ProjectArt is focusing on urban centers to reach as many students as possible but ultimately hopes to focus on underserved areas outside of the country’s major centers. Buckley Muchmore says that they will reach less populated communities as well. After all, they will be in every city where there are libraries.
ProjectArt Brings Art Education to Children
Nelson Mandela once said that there could be no deeper revelation about the soul of society than how it treated its children.
Adarsh Alphonse is an artist and founder of ProjectArt. This organization conducts art classes in public libraries located near schools where art is not taught. An important message from ProjectArt is Changing the worldview of arts education.
Give brushes to children
Adarsh Alphonse was born in India and now lives in New York. Alphonse was disappointed to learn that nearly three out of 10 public schools do not even have one full-time art teacher. And across the country, when it comes to school budget cuts, free art programs are often among the top. We have selected Adarsh Alfons as one of the world’s leading leaders.
Alphonse is fully aware of the many educational and emotional benefits that come from creative expression through art and believes: “Art is essential for all-round education because it allows a child to learn things that he would not be able to study in other areas. It is meditative, reflective but also requires skill and hard work. He emphasizes the fact that every child should have room for creativity. He decided that they should give the children paintbrushes.
A teacher believed in him
The life-changing experience that has served to advance Alphonse’s mission is documented on the project website. He was excluded from school when he was only seven years old for drawing in class. His parents sent him to another school, and by the age of fifteen, he was already painting portraits of Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, and dad, and all because one art teacher felt his passion for art, supported his abilities, and believed in him.
This compassionate man is now inspiring many other children and making a difference in their lives. Since 2011, ProjectArt has expanded from one branch in Harlem to a network of 12 libraries throughout the city. Thanks to his efforts, nearly 1,000 children have benefited from ProjectArt. They consist of three age groups: 4–7, 8–12, and 13–17 years old.
Children’s art exhibitions
In addition to art education, at the end of each semester, ProjectArt presents exhibitions at galleries of contemporary art in New York. Exhibitions give children a sense of pride and an opportunity to share their work. Alphonse notes that this is evidence that the child put the hard work into it. It glorifies them and makes it clear what is possible if they pursue their dreams.
CNN Hero Award Winner
Alphonse has received numerous awards for his contributions through ProjectArt. A glance at his LinkedIn profile reveals his many accomplishments. In addition to being selected as a CNN Hero, he has been recognized as the new innovator AmEx-Ashoka, New York Rising Star PAVE, Columbia University Fellow, Awarded Education Hero by NYC Councilor Robert Jackson, and New York City Resident -York by NY1 News, for his work with ProjectArt.
How can you help
ProjectArt is a non-profit organization with its independent status 501.c.3. It relies on the support of individual donors and foundations. There are several ways to help ProjectArt. The website has a page with specific suggestions and recommendations.
Anyone can volunteer, donate money or resources, or share their ideas on how ProjectArt can grow even bigger and help more children benefit from arts education. We are grateful to heroes like Adarsh Alphonse who take care of children and want to bring more positive changes to the world.