Being involved in community projects can be a fulfilling experience for social workers. For some, that is especially the case when the projects are art-related. A community arts project involves numerous media with the aim often being a means to promote conversation within a group. Many such projects are dreamed up and established in conjunction with professional creatives.
A number of the projects that make up this list provide both adults and children with a chance to not only create art but also develop confidence. Some have the purpose of breathing new life into disenfranchised communities, while others provide a place for people to express themselves visually. The following projects are great examples of resourcefulness, ingenuity, and an ability to inspire and engage community.
Edible Hut, Calimera Park in Detroit, MI
Kate Daughdrill and Mira Burak, two artists from Detroit, in conjunction with residents from the Osborn neighbourhood, created the Edible Hut. The aim of the project is to restore a fallen city. Taking care of many natural areas, such as parks, in Detroit have fallen in the hands of local residents, due to lack of funding.
The Edible Hut established an area to gather, as well as to grow and bring back to life the older neighbourhoods in Detroit. The hut is a structure made up of reclaimed materials, and provides a space for educational activities, as well as performances and somewhere from which the hut’s vegetables can be sold. Plantings positioned on top of the hut aren’t limited to veggies; there are other edibles ultimately grown for the community. They also form a shade over the structure.
Urban ArtWorks in Seattle, WA
Established in 1995, this project mentors, trains, and employs community youth who are at risk. The organisation provides mid-level juvenile offenders with a way to develop confidence and self-esteem by creating murals along Seattle’s SODO Urban Arts Corridor. Having started as a way of removing graffiti from Seattle, the group has since produced more than 400 murals throughout the city.
The programme provides disadvantaged youths with a chance to earn a wage and repay any restitution ordered by the court to go to their victims while also providing opportunities for both friendship and leadership. The communities involved benefit from these projects and the youth benefit from an increased sense of self-worth and confidence.
Los Angeles Poverty Department, Skid Row in Los Angeles, CA
There are literally thousands of people living on Skid Row, the poorest area of Los Angeles. In 1985, John Malpede, an activist and performer, decided to start an organisation that could provide help to the homeless residents of Skid Row that enables them to use art in order to tell their stories. The Los Angeles Poverty Department was established with the aim of putting an end to discrimination of poverty and negative stereotypes.
The first performance group that was made up of homeless people, the programme was also the first for people on the street. Calling themselves the LAPD, they create regular artworks and performance in order to educate not only themselves but local communities on stereotypes and inclusion. The group provides art workshops and is facilitated by artists who provide support and mentorship. Thanks to LAPD, residents of Skid Row have a voice. The project has been acknowledged with multiple awards.