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February 7, 2018

ARTS: A Reason to Survive

ARTS: A Reason to SurviveARTS: A Reason to Survive“The arts, it has been said, cannot change the world, but they may change human beings, who might change the world.”

This quote by Maxine Greene—an American educational philosopher, author, educator and social activist—is displayed prominently on the homepage of A Reason to Survive (ARTS), a nonprofit organization embodying Dr. Greene’s words by offering after-school and weekend programs to young people ages 11–22. ARTS is a founding partner in the Creative Youth Development (CYD) National Partnership, an emerging network raising awareness of CYD as a solution for positive outcomes for youth.

The concept of CYD is founded on four pillars:

  1. Learning outcomes (in the case of ARTS—artistic skill development)
  2. Health outcomes (mental and behavioral health)
  3. Leadership
  4. Career readiness

ARTS, currently transitioning from founder and CEO Matt D’Arrigo to new Executive Director James Halliday, encourages creative community building and offers mental health and wellness support, college and career advising, and leadership coaching to young people from National City and neighboring cities at its 20,000-foot ARTS Center in National City.

“We are reintroducing the organization and the space,” said Halliday. “We are staying mindful of stakeholders—staff, teaching artists, students—while being smart about working with strategic partners to use the facility.”

Programming resumes in February, with a focus on future programming falling into one of four major buckets: Visual, Performing, Media Arts and Maker (industrial arts). Next up, ARTS will offer a course on urban planning and community engagement.

“We have a close relationship with the City of National City’s city manager and planning director to cultivate our vibrant neighborhoods initiative,” said Halliday.

In addition, “ARTS refers its students to youth-serving agencies, mental health centers, teachers and community centers as appropriate,” said Laura Aparicio, Student Services Manager at ARTS.

ARTS is a key partner working with government and civic leaders in National City toward their goal of establishing a safe, healthy, and vibrant city where residents feel pride in and ownership of their surroundings. To this end, ARTS has been hosting community events and offering resources to the community, engaging residents with arts projects and exploring opportunities to work with the food and drink industry to create an arts and culture district in National City.

While the board is undergoing a strategic planning process to lock down priorities, the ARTS mission— “ignite the power of creativity in youth, inspiring them to overcome obstacles and providing them with the skills needed to become compassionate catalysts for positive change in themselves, their communities, and the world”—is very much in focus.

Halliday asks, “How do you achieve learning artistic outcomes and health outcomes in tandem? The goal is an integrative approach that offers a roadmap for young people to develop whole child, learning, leadership and health wellbeing.”

ARTS will host an art expo at the upcoming Opportunity Summit on April 12 to celebrate, elevate and present opportunities for young adults, including art for sale by ARTS participants. ARTS is currently looking for supporters who can give time or money, in particular mentors who can share knowledge with the youth. For more information, contact Laura Aparicio at A Reason to Survive

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