From Art from the Streets, this month's Get Involved spotlight non-profit:
Through its 23 year history, Art From the Streets has helped hundreds of homeless individuals improve their circumstances - literally and figuratively - by providing them the means to make art. We believe that anyone can make art and that making art is good for everyone.
Art From the Streets' volunteers hold open studio sessions three times a week where people who are homeless or formerly homeless can come to paint and draw. Then we help them sell what they've made - primarily by producing an annual show and sale of the resulting work, with proceeds of sales going to the artists. Last year's 23rd Annual Show and Sale at the Austin Convention Center brought over 1200 people who purchased over $90,000 of art in the 10 hours we were open. Earnings have helped some participants actually get off the streets - a few permanently, others for shorter periods of time. Used cars and vans have been purchased which act as homes and studios for those without either. For most though, the monetary rewards are modest, allowing them to purchase basic necessities, such as clothing, shoes, food, and other amenities that most of us take completely for granted.
But there are other rewards. Participants gain access to their creativity, and for some - the determination and discipline necessary to explore it. The personal relationships formed in the weekly studio sessions are invaluable additions to their lives. In many cases the time spent with the volunteers and other artists in the open studio sessions are their only positive human interactions of the day. There is a feeling of pride and self-worth experienced at the annual show, where the usual social hierarchy gets turned on its head, transforming unrecognized homeless individuals into the featured stars of the show. There is the sense of purpose that brings the individuals to open studio week after week. The satisfaction from working hard at something and ending-up with tangible evidence of that effort is presented with the annual show- a wall full of art that they themselves created. Visitors who might otherwise never have spoken to a homeless person engage with them at the show. The interest and appreciation expressed by the patrons gives the artists a sense of worth - that they have something of value to offer the world. This means as much as the money they earn.
The mission of Art From the Streets (AFTS) is to provide a safe and encouraging environment in which the positive spirit of homeless and at-risk people is nurtured through artistic expression, and to provide them with a source of pride and income through the sale of their work.
Annual Show Volunteer