New Urban Arts needs you. Please click the heart to the right to contribute to our 2013 Annual Campaign, or consider monthly giving options.
All young people deserve to come of age in a community that nurtures them and encourages them to dream big. When you support New Urban Arts, you build that community for hundreds of youth who wouldn’t otherwise get the chance.
The National Endowment for the Arts released a study last year on the link between the arts and achievement for at-risk youth. The results won’t surprise you: “Students who have arts-rich experiences do better across-the-board academically, and they also become more active and engaged.” By supporting New Urban Arts, you feed this dynamic. Here, high school students develop their unique voices, form positive relationships with peers and adult mentors, and graduate on a path toward post-secondary education—all through the arts.
But the chance for creative participation is increasingly rare for youth who need it most. The NEA reports that low-income and minority youth now have half as much access to arts education as in 1982. We’re seeing the results of this firsthand; 90% of our students come from low-income households, and 85% are youth of color.
You can guess the effects of artistic deprivation on them. Sara, a recent New Urban Arts grad and current college student, wrote that before coming to New Urban Arts: “I used to be shy and not have a lot of confidence in my abilities. My days consisted of just working and walking home and just locking myself into my room . . . I wanted something more.“
You can fill the void; you can give “something more.” You can give youth the support they need to achieve more than they ever thought possible. Sara writes:
I remember my first day at NUA; I was greeted by a hug, by a total stranger. I was compelled to hug back. That’s how strong the emotions and feelings are here at NUA. It is just a wave of compassion, care and love. I built relationships with people and gained friends and what I now call my family. It was a place where my artistic abilities were allowed to flourish.
This is a place in which I could become anything I wanted to be, my hopes and dreams were inspired to become a reality. From that day on I came to NUA every single day.
Sara is now a freshman at Salem College in North Carolina, on a full art scholarship. Donors made her journey possible by connecting Sara with the artist mentors she worked with at New Urban Arts. She honed her painting and illustration skills, while developing leadership abilities by organizing events for her fellow students as a member of the Studio Team Advisory Board. One of her mentors, Emily Ustach, a Salem graduate, helped her apply for her scholarship. Emily writes:
I know that it wasn’t an easy decision for Sara to go to Salem. Salem is a long way from home . . . but I also like to think that having built a trusting relationship with me at New Urban Arts, helped her to feel comfortable taking the risk to move away to another state for college.
It’s that comfort in taking risks that makes her artwork so strong. It’s what made her an attractive candidate for a scholarship. And it’s what makes her and all New Urban Arts students special. Students take risks everyday, New Urban Arts makes taking those risks easier, it gives students daily practice in risk taking.
Sometimes we can’t believe that the Sara we know today is the same person who walked into the studio four years ago, but it’s so important to remember her as she was because there are thousands of other youth like her out there, yearning for “something more,” eager for a place to take risks and use their creativity to launch themselves into life.
And sadly, the chance that the youth we serve will find this place in school is slimmer than ever. Last year, 75% of Providence public schools didn’t meet yearly progress benchmarks for reading and math, and the district has been in No Child Left Behind intervention status for over 10 years. Considering scarce school funding, arts education will continue to suffer.
So we need your support more than ever. When you give to New Urban Arts, you make it easier for young people to grow, take risks and reap all the benefits that come with a life rich in art.
Susan Smulyan and Teal Butterworth,
New Urban Arts Board of Directors