In 2015, Free Arts will launch a Teen Arts Center where youth can develop their creative skills through intensive educational art classes. The Teen Arts Center will provide multi-week courses to youth currently in our Weekly Mentorship program, as well as other youth who face the challenges of poverty, homelessness, abuse and mental illness. In addition to classroom space, the Center will have gallery space that will be used to showcase the work of teen artists. The Teen Arts Center’s goal is to provide free, intensive art experiences to young people, so they can develop a lifelong creative practice.
Free Arts intends to leverage these new relationships with teens to create a youth advisory council aimed at improving the program. Our long-term goal is to engage with youth who can eventually become assistants or teachers in our programs.
The most likely location for the Teen Arts Center, as of December 2014, is within Hope Community’s space at the intersection of Franklin Avenue and Portland, just south of Downtown. Hope Community is eager to form a partnership with Free Arts, and they very supportive of bringing this program to the high-needs area and community they serve.
NOTE: Free Arts decided to discontinue The STUDIO, our teen arts center, after piloting it for two terms. The STUDIO’s location was not easily accessible, and we had difficulties recruiting and retaining teens. Though we were disappointed to table the program, we did grow organizationally by running it. We learned we better serve teens by bringing art to them, and we will continue to do so through existing partner-based models (e.g. Weekly Mentorship and CREATE Workshop). The STUDIO also demonstrated how valuable the Teaching Artist Series programs are to our youth, and we have subsequently increased the number of paid Teaching Artists with whom we partner.