One of our former artist-mentors told me that her cousin recently asked her, “What do you do when New Urban Arts students argue over supplies?” The question caught her off guard because at New Urban Arts, you never see students argue over art supplies.
She shared this reflection: “Supplies are not precious at New Urban Arts. There’s a culture of resourcefulness and collaboration here that exists not because anyone has posted rules about ‘sharing’ but because these qualities are so embedded into our collective practice.”
But a few days later, our director of programs told me that 68 young people applied for New Urban Arts’ summer programs this year—the most ever. It reminded me, as I hope it will remind you, just how scarce resources for youth are, even as we fight for a culture of resourcefulness.
Most Providence families can’t afford summer programs for their children. Even free programs are a stretch because our students need summer jobs. However, RI’s unemployment rate is 8.3% (the highest in the US), and it’s 11% in the neighborhoods where New Urban Arts students live, so youth are likely to spend all summer looking for jobs that they probably won’t find. That’s why New Urban Arts offers paid summer internships for youth; that’s why more students than ever have applied, and that’s why I’m asking you to help us expand our summer programs this year to meet the growing demand.
There is no better investment you can make for our city than investing in our youth. Young people, no matter their background, deserve and need opportunities to engage meaningfully. With your help, more students will spend the summer making art, painting murals, and enriching our neighborhoods and our city with their artistic presence.
With your help, more students than ever can experience a place where there’s no reason to fight over supplies.
Elia Gurna, Executive Director