I believe that kids want to be kids; everyone wants to play, be creative, have fun with friends, but not everyone in LA is exposed to the same stressors that children in our partner facilities deal with daily.
Hi everyone! I hope the summer has been good to you; it sure has been for me! My time here at Free Arts is quickly coming to a close and I thought it a good time to share some of my favorite experiences and reflections I have had over the season.
I started at Free Arts on June 4 under the sponsorship of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. LACAC has been advocating for the involvement of students in the art economy in Los Angeles, chiefly through non-profit work and development with the aims of bolstering the next generation of creative leaders. Their paid internship program has been instrumental in connecting students with amazing organizations, relevant full-time work experience and -wait for it- money! I truly appreciate the efforts of LACAC in Los Angeles County and can vouch on their impact through my experience at Free Arts.
When I applied to the LACAC internship program, I was applying with the express interest in working with Free Arts. There are several factors that make Free Arts exciting for me: the opportunity to connect with children and young adults from my community in LA, work on creative art projects, and collaborate with a team who is just as excited to extend creative opportunities to the rest of LA. And lo and behold, my internship experience lived up to the hype!
There are several projects that I was involved in that highlighted the nature of working with an arts non-profit: outreaching to facilities and potential partners, communicating with and training volunteers, creating curriculum for programs, and supporting Free Arts’ programs. Some of the most important experiences and lessons, however, came from the relationships I built with children in our 8-week-long off-site mentorship programs. There, I had the chance to sit down and talk with the students and be present to support their experience in art making and creativity.
Through my interactions with children I was able to learn more about Los Angeles and support the education of at-risk youth. I believe that kids want to be kids; everyone wants to play, be creative, have fun with friends, but not everyone in LA is exposed to the same stressors that children in our partner facilities deal with daily. Without generalizing the experiences of everyone, I did see anxieties over gun violence, fighting, and poverty bubble-up through our conversations. However, by being present and involved, I was able to facilitate their creative experience and give them new tools to think with, or at the very least, be an adult that invariably supports them and challenges them to be the best they can.
As Free Arts continues to grow and involve both more children and more quality volunteer mentors, I hope that more and more communities realize the importance of art education and more volunteers jump to action to support creative programming. I am super grateful that I was able to be part of the Free Arts team this summer and I look forward to seeing how I can still be involved in the future. Until then, I will be wrapping up my summer projects as I get ready to go back to school in Berkeley for my final year. Ciao!