Poverty & the Arts, an innovative organization for social change in Nashville, TN is bridging a gap that is vastly overlooked when we think about the homeless in America today. Today we’re featuring Clare Fernandez, the organization’s Community Engagement Director, who will share their mission and some of the awesome strides they are making in the Nashville area. At the end of the post, check out some simple things that you can do right now to help this extraordinary group!!
Creating sustainable change for homeless individuals by providing an environment that fosters creativity and strengthens community relationships. This is the mission of Poverty & the Arts. It’s an enormous undertaking but a vital mission to the sustainability of Nashville’s community. For decades, wonderful organizations and nonprofits in our city have provided resources and services to the homeless population. However, our Executive Director, Nicole Brandt, found there to be a gap in the methods used to approach homelessness.
Our organization serves to fill this gap by providing environments. Environment drives behavior and we believe in the importance of a place where homeless individuals can go to dream and be inspired to change their lives. Our goal as a social arts organization is to empower homeless and formerly homeless individuals as artists and creatives by helping them generate income, receive professional development, build relationships, and seek purpose in life. We also use the arts to provide a space for volunteers to view homeless individuals as talented and creative, thus creating better advocates and more compassionate community members.
Our Artist Collective is comprised of homeless and formerly homeless creatives that are pursuing art and creativity as a means to make real, sustainable change in their lives. Whether they’re generating income through art, finding focus and determination through program expectations, or simply networking and cultivating relationships in the creative community, our Artist Collective is full of artists striving to make their lives better.
2014 was the inaugural year of the program and we had two artists. Over the course of the program, those artists made over $1,000 cumulatively through sales of their artwork. They were featured in exhibitions around the city, and displayed their works at our annual fundraiser and gala this past September.
In its second year, the program is at capacity with ten artists, and a wait list of interested participants. Our artists’ exhibition opportunities include Music City Fine Art, Leu Foyer Art Gallery, Center 615, Wedgewood-Houston Art Crawl, and Art and Soul Studio, among others. The interest in and demand for our artists is a testament to their hard work, talent, and beautiful souls. The support from the community is overwhelming, and we are excited to continue to develop this program.
With this exciting growth comes a need and desire for even greater involvement from the community to keep our organization as a staple in the Nashville arts, nonprofit, and social justice scenes. We know that this city is full of passionate, inspired people. We know that the city is also full of people who have never had the experience of being on equal footing with homeless individuals, creating and conversing through the beauty of the arts. As one volunteer said: “One of the homeless men in our writing class mentioned the fact that we were all equal because of our creating together. I couldn’t have said it better.”
Poverty & the Arts has already affected much change in our four years of programming and less than one year as a 501(c)3 organization here in Nashville. With your help, we can truly transform homelessness through creativity and community. My favorite time of the week is the time I spend at the studio on Sundays, witnessing the creativity and community that is truly transforming this city and the perceptions of the people in it.
If Poverty & the Arts sounds like an organization you would like to support, we have 2 exciting developments that you can help with by simply clicking on the links below and then sharing with your own network!! Continue reading for details!
Help Poverty & the Arts win $1500!
Simply make a Facebook comment by Friday, April 17.
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee announced a Facebook pop-up contest for #TheBigPayback and will award $1500 to the participating nonprofit that receives the most mentions by unique users in the comment section of their “$1500 Comment Contest” photo on Facebook.
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP!
1. Click on this link: http://tinyurl.com/popupcontest
2. Mention Poverty & the Arts in the comments.
3. Share, like, and tag your friends to help us win!
#PovAStudio – A fundraiser for a Poverty & the Arts studio!!!
Poverty & the Arts is also excited to launch our first fundraising campaign to rent our very own studio for our homeless artists! The growth and development of our organization and our artists would benefit greatly from our own space. Earlier this week they received their first $1000+ level donation and have now raised $1325 in 5 days! We are so grateful to those who have donated so far!
We are offering unique perks for donations of $25 and up and donations of any amount will receive a hand-drawn thank you card by one of our artists. We are so thankful for all the support from our lovely community!