Last week we were blessed with the wonderful opportunity to welcome our Founder, Carol Conrad, back to Art With a Heart. Carol came for a visit to our new office and a visit to the Elizabeth Odle studio presented by Gator. Carol met new staff and learned about the many changes that have taken place over the last four years since she relocated to England with her husband. Carol and current Executive Director, Andrew Lee are shown catching up while decorating tiles for the backsplash in the studio. Carol will be attending our pendent party on November 16th (this coming Saturday) at Pottery-By-You and there are several spots still available. For more information please see our Facebook page or call 317 602 7222 (ext. 5) for Kaitlyn Akin.
Stories are under appreciated, they are the most powerful and ubiquitous tools for learning and appreciating our humanity. They tell us who we are, where we came from and they bind us together for the better functioning of society. When we decided to make the move to 37 Place I became interested in the history of the building. It dates from 1927 and was built as a school. It holds particular meaning for African Americans as the last segregated school in Indianapolis. But even these are only facts. They don’t bring to life the history of the people who walked its halls, taught its students and how they lived their lives in the space we now occupy.
There were many community meetings and events as the building moved from dilapidation to demolition to renovation. At one of these meetings I met Liz Odle, and as we shared a table discussing our aspirations for the future of the facility I learned that she had taught in IPS #37 as it was before. In fact Elizabeth Odle began her teaching career in the space now occupied by Art With a Heart. Liz worked with Special Needs students and was a pioneer in proving that inclusive teaching was not only possible but it was better for all students to foster a welcoming, supportive environment for every child regardless of their academic or physical ability.
After 17 years at IPS 37 Liz earned the chance to run her own school and with the encouragement of her Principal left to become the Principal of IPS # 14. Throughout the rest of her career Liz became one of the most awarded and recognized employees of the Indianapolis public schools for her tireless effort to inspire the kids in her building to be more than they thought they could be. Following her retirement from IPS Liz went to work at United Way where she is now Director of Bridges to Success and oversees the work of Community School Coordinators in 17 IPS schools.
Although Liz never taught art we found so much in common between our mission and her personal goals. The strong academic base of our programs also fits well with our new space in a former school. There is something powerful when so many aspects of life align and so we thought it right to name our new studio after a remarkable woman whose work giving hope and education to underserved youth so closely mirrors ours. The Elizabeth Odle studio, presented by Gator, was opened on Friday September 13th with representatives from CICF, IUPUI’s Full Service Community School Coordinator program and the Board of Director of Art With a Heart present to celebrate the achievements of our honoree as well as Mrs. Helen Lewis who was the Principal of IPS #37 when Liz started there. The ribbon was cut by Liz Odle and Andrew Lee, Executive Director of Art With a Heart.
This year will be the third time the Jewish Community Center has played host to a civic discussion in the Indy Talks series. “Art Matters – The Whys and Hows of Art in Schools” will take place on October 29th at 7pm with a panel featuring Matt Tulley (Indy Star) Glenda Ritz (State Superintendent) and Jason Kloth (Deputy Mayor for Education) and a civic discussion following.
This discussion is particularly relevant to Art With a Heart and we are honored to have been invited to facilitate a table discussion. Here are some questions that have been posed for the discussion:
- What is art?
- Why does art matter for children?
- What were your personal experiences with art as a child and how have those experiences impacted you?
- What would a school look like in which art is integrated to a maximum extent?
- What does art teach kids about themselves?
- What are examples of art successfully integrating with education?
- What changes would you like to see in the realm of arts and education?
With 45 minutes for conversation we can’t possibly get a good discussion on all these issues so we will be posting them on our social media each day leading up to the discussion in order to hear the opinions of our followers in the community.
You’re invited to our official opening!
Friday September 13th will be the official opening of our new office and studio space here at 37 Place. Guests are welcome from 11:30am and the formal ribbon cutting will take place at Noon.
On Saturday September 14th we’re holding a block party & rummage sale to help raise money to keep improving our studio. The event runs from 7:00am to 3:00pm. We’ll have food and drinks, fun art activities and games courtesy of our new neighbors: Playworks. We’re planning a day that’s fun for all the family.
Look out for more information about the event on Facebook soon and Save The Date!
Last August, without a great deal of fanfare we departed the space that had been our office since 2005 on Sunnyside Road in Lawrence Township. We had a five year lease there followed by a year of month to month until the moment came we couldn’t stay any longer. Since then we’ve been camped out here in the Circle City Industrial Complex at 10th & Massachusetts. It’s been fun; we’ve made some great new friends: Wug Laku, Nancy Lee, the folks at The Art Bank, the folks from the Cool Bus (yes, they’re cool as well). We’ve connected with a new client at IPS #74 and its been a joy to have a teaching studio as part of our space once again.
None-the-less we’ve really been waiting for the renovation of 37 Place to be completed. Now that it’s ready we’re looking forward to moving to a place we hope to call home for a long time. There’s a strong philosophical link between our work and the new space: it’s a former school which is consistent with the strong educational foundations of our program. The idea of 37 Place as the Heartbeat of Martindale Brightwood is reflected in the name and the logo of our organization.
Our current office will close at 5pm on Wednesday July 31st. We will be re-open in our new location on Tuesday August 6th at 9am. In-between we will be temporarily without our office phone and have limited access to email.
Our new address will be:
2605 E 25th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46218
If you come in to our Saturday Honors Art program as a visitor, expect to be accosted! Honors Art has always been the place for those students who show the strongest response to art as a component of their personal development, so when they’re in the studio they’re excited, challenged, focused and sometime frustrated as they try to make sense of their latest project. They love to talk to you about it too! Many of our Honors students have been with us for 5 years or more, they come back because they and their parents recognize that our studio is somewhere their child can be comfortable, because being an artist and putting your work out there for the world to see can be traumatic as a teenager. It costs around $500 per student per year to be in Honors and our expansion is always dependent on finding new funding.
So with great delight AWaH announces today that grants from both the Arts Council of Indianapolis and the Indiana Arts Commission will be used to expand our Honors Art program this fall. Lawrence Art Center will become our second program venue. Located at 4437 N Franklin Road, the center is entering its third year of operation and takes us back to the part of the city where we started, where we had our first office and where we were sad to leave some students behind when our last studio closed in 2009. The partnership with LAC provides an affordable space and in anticipation of more art programs in Lawrence next year we think this is a great time to offer more students the chance to enter the creative class.
One of the core components of the Junior Board’s mission is raising funds to provide our students with additional materials at the end of their summer and afterschool programs. This is a unique aspect of Art With a Heart and for the last two years the recession has severely limited our funds for this activity. But over the last 9 months, the current Junior Board raised almost $1500 to provide materials for every child in the 2013 summer program: over 500 students. In addition the JB was selected by DoSomething.com in a national competition to receive a $500 grant to help continue their work. This grant will be used to help provide materials for students in afterschool programs this Fall. Look out for a blog post later this summer by some of the JB members describing their experiences with AWaH.
We’re saying goodbye to the recession! It’s official, following two years of deficit spending in 2010 and 2011 then a breakeven situation in fiscal year 2012, Art With a Heart is delighted to announce a $29,000 surplus for the fiscal year 2013 (ended 5/31/13). Careful cash management and an immense commitment by our staff has generated an operating surplus for the first time since March 2009. “This is absolutely a team effort; everyone has found a way to help us get back on top” says Executive Director Andrew Lee, “we’re also grateful to our major supporters: Glick Fund, Indianapolis Foundation, Lilly Endowment, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, Regions, Benesch, Endangered Species Chocolate and Mark Hill for their trust and support as we’ve recovered.” With growth in earned income, event revenue and grants helping AWaH out of the recession, the organization is turning its focus to private contributions now that economic growth is becoming tangible, and hopes to make gains there in the short to medium term.
Here at AWaH we’ve recently come to realize that there’s a flaw in much of the arts education programming offered to schools. We’d like to see programming that develops the school staff, raises the profile of the arts faculty and minimizes the longer term expense for the school. To that end we’ve restructured our Kindergarten program to do all of those things and we’re rolling it out in IPS this Fall. In late May the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust confirmed that they will support our redesigned program with a $60,000 grant over two years. The money will help AWaH provide Kindergarten programs in four Indianapolis Public Schools locations starting in January 2013. Specifically the funds help cover staff salaries and pay for evaluation of the program in the second year. In addition the Trust’s support, funding for materials in this program has been provided through a grant from the Junior League of Indianapolis; in April JLI presented a check for $10,000 to Art With a Heart to cover materials for the coming school year. The new Kindergarten program is a major strategic investment for the organization and will represent as much as 25% of the organization’s budget in FY2014.
Fuel Fed Events of Carmel, IN announced recently that their inaugural event “The Art of Motoring” will take place on Friday August 23rd, 2013 and proceeds will benefit Art With a Heart. Affiliated with the Carmel Artomobilia car show, Art of Motoring will offer a first class experience for motoring enthusiasts, celebrating 100 years of Aston Martin.
Thanks to a recent grant from The Lilly Endowment we are pleased to announce that work on our next strategic plan has begun. Our work is being supported by three consulting groups: Kemyst Design (Indianapolis) will conduct our strategic study, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE, Chicago IL) will conduct our program review and the Indianapolis-based Ruprecht & Hoke will be reviewing our evaluation and documentation processes. The study began February 11th and is due to be completed by Nov 1, 2013.
AWAH is delighted to welcome The Martin Center to its list of clients. The Martin Center will become a client in our 2013 summer program which will be tailored for the students served by the center all of whom suffer from varieties of Sickle Cell Disease. The 8 week long program will enable students to create art that will be presented on note cards and sold to support programming.
Cierra was a child from a low-income, single-parent family. Her days were filled with responsibility. Her childhood had been placed on hold. Severe health issues made it difficult for her mother to earn a steady income or even drive Cierra to activities.
Cierra discovered Art with a Heart. She found a welcoming community and a hidden gift for the arts. Our staff and volunteers worked with Cierra to teach her the importance of academics, drawing, painting and sculpting techniques, but most importantly – encouraged her to believe in herself.
Cierra’s self-worth began to grow. She entered one of her favorite pieces into an art competition. She won and it changed her life. In a moment, Cierra finally began to accept what her Art with a Heart supporters were telling her – her art was interesting to other people.
After five years with the program, she moved on to high school and subsequently enrolled in college. Cierra stayed the course, even through pregnancy in her senior year, and went on to graduate from Purdue University. Here is the note she sent to us just prior to graduation:
“I am graduating from Purdue on Saturday with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Art and Design with a concentration in Photography and Related Media and a minor in Art History. Art with a Heart was always important to me when I was in grade school and even through high school and I would love to be able to come back. This organization is what pushed me to be an artist to begin with and I always loved working with all the kids. I hated when I had to leave to go to college but always intended to come back to where I began and hopefully I will be able to.”
We don’t expect to do this for everyone, but we’re absolutely thrilled to have shown that we can do it and break the cycle of poverty.