Many schools in New York City have suffered loss in arts education. Public libraries have also incurred budget set-backs. Enter Adarsh Alphons with a solution for both. Adarsh is passionate about art and education. “He has painted portraits for Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and the Pope, all because one art teacher perceived his passion for art, encouraged his aptitude and believed in him” (Project Art Website). He is so passionate about art that after being expelled from school at age 7 because he was drawing, and being encouraged by a teacher to keep drawing, he has started his own non-profit called Project Art. Through his vision, students in the city of New York get art in public libraries.
ProjectArt aims to level the playing field, particularly for youth from lower socioeconomic backgrounds by offering them a place to express themselves through art. Using our unique project-based learning model, we create an environment where students discover their artistic visions and achieve them on a scale and seriousness only available to established artists. Using art as a medium that crosses socio-economic, cultural and political boundaries, we empower youth to be a part of a cultural dialogue that spans the breadth of issues only a community as heterogeneous as this City faces. The vast majority of our students are of Black, Latin American decent and from immigrant families from all over the globe that have chosen Harlem as their home…youth should have access to these services regardless of their ability to pay for them, which is why our program is free (Project Art Inaugural Report, 2013).
Through the use of already existing public library buildings in neighborhoods where children have very little access to art, Project Art improves student access to art and improves the chances that art will help students at risk. This aligns with The SchoolWorks Lab, Inc.’s findings in Rochester, NY, the ninth poorest city in the United States. When you give students the experience of art—students who are most at risk for poverty, language and achievement, their academic scores are likely to go up (Southworth, The SchoolWorks Lab, Inc., Project RAISE, Rochester, NY evaluation). Project Art is now in 11 NYC Public Libraries serving hundreds of children access to art and success.