[ We are artists, writers, musicians, poets, dancers and everyday people working to create change in young people’s lives through art. ]


What does your name mean?

It refers to the 180-degree change we hope to encourage within the young people we serve, and in the larger community through publication and exhibition of our young people's work.

How long has ART 180 been around?

ART 180 was incorporated in November 1998, and we began doing events and programs earlier that summer.

What does ART 180 do?

ART 180's mission is to give young people the chance to express themselves through art, and to share their stories with others. We do this by designing and providing programs for young people challenged by their circumstances, and by seeing that their voices are heard in the community—through performances, exhibits, media campaigns, publications.

Our interest isn't in creating future Van Goghs, but rather creating future leaders who transcend their circumstances and work to effect positive change around them. Through our programs, young people discover ways they can positively engage in and influence their surroundings—through a billboard advising their peers to "find a dream and stick with it" or a painting depicting the effects of violence on young lives.

Who are ART 180's partners?

Our current partners include Communities In Schools of RIchmond at Huguenot and George Wythe high schools, Boushall, Elkhardt and Henderson middle schools, Broad Rock Elementary; Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond's Capital One and Falling Creek units; Blackwell Community Center, Charity Family Life, Friends Association for Children, ROSMY (Richmond ORganization for Sexual Minority Youth); The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club; and William Byrd Community House.

How do these partnerships work?

While Richmond has no shortage of organizations serving disadvantaged youth, many do not have the staff and resources needed to provide meaningful art programs. By collaborating with these organizations, we are able to offer art opportunities that would otherwise not be available. They are able to offer us the support of counselors, staff, and knowledge that comes from years of experience working with the young people we serve.

ART 180 raises funds to provide programs; recruits, trains, and manages the artists; and looks for ways to present the final work in some kind of public venue. Our partners host programs at their facilities and provide valuable links to the community and to families. They recruit young people for programs and intervene when discipline, attendance, or emotional issues arise.

What kinds of young people does ART 180 work with?

Young people challenged by their circumstances—whether that's poverty, neglect, the constant threat of drugs and violence, etc.

How are your programs structured?

ART 180 recruits and trains artists who visit our partner sites on a weekly basis for 12 weeks each spring and fall, with shorter programs in the summer. They work with small groups of young people for an hour or more, and sometimes the artists work in pairs or teams. When recruiting artists, we look for individuals who are able to nurture, and inspire children. Before beginning their programs, they are trained by ART 180 and attend an on-site orientation session. Our artists come into each situation with more than paints and clay—they come with an understanding of the circumstances and needs of the young people they'll be working with, and with a curriculum that emphasizes individual expression, personal growth, and self-discovery.

How many programs does ART 180 run at any given time?

Currently we are running 10 programs each semester.

How does ART 180 give young people a voice in the community?

Through performances, exhibits, media campaigns, and publications. We've tried everything from framed art displayed in a gallery, to messages on the sides of city buses, to our own poetry zine.

Do you pay your artists?

Generally, artists and assistants who lead multi-week programs are paid a stipend at the end of the project. Occasionally, for a large-scale project that requires more commitment from the artist, we are able to pay more. We do not pay artists for one-day events.

Do you work with the same young people year after year?

It varies, depending on the nature of the site, the program, and how the children are recruited by our site partner. Some programs intentionally have all new participants, while others have a combination of new and returning.

Does ART 180 do one-day events?

We do not usually lead art projects at one-day events unless they are connected to the communities we serve.

How can my child sign up for an ART 180 program?

ART 180 works only with young people identified by our partners in the specific communities we serve.

How many volunteers work with ART 180?

At any given moment, more than 75 volunteers actively help ART 180 meet its mission—25 help with programs and another 50 or so serve on the board or committees or help with one-time events.

I'm not an artist. Can I still help ART 180?

Absolutely. ART 180 is a community-based organization that relies on a variety and diversity of talents and resources in our community. We always need financial support and help with program support, special events, and administrative tasks.

How do I get involved with ART 180?

You can contribute your time and/or financial resources. See the volunteer page of this site, or we can mail you some information to help you find the right match between your skills and interests and our needs. Volunteer opportunities include project leaders, program support, designers for ART 180 materials and products, photographers and videographers to document programs, administrative tasks, and special events. Volunteer...

How did ART 180 get started?

It grew out of a belief that young people should have a voice, and that adults can learn a lot from what they have to say. We also believe in the importance of creative expression, the therapeutic benefits of art, and the personal growth a program like this can make possible, especially for disadvantaged children. All that drove the two founders, Kathleen Lane and Marlene Paul, to begin defining, researching, and building their dream throughout late 1997 and 1998. Both communications professionals, they met at an advertising agency and crafted ART 180 on the side until it became a 501(c)(3) corporation in June 1999 and they quit their other jobs.

How is ART 180 funded?

ART 180's 2010 annual operating budget is $438,000. Each year we work to generate sufficient income to meet our budget through foundation and government grants and contributions from board members, individuals, small businesses and corporations, and civic and church groups. We also generate some revenue through product sales and fees for services. We are always looking for ways to raise funds--it's a never-ending job and requires the efforts of lots of people.

How do you know that ART 180 makes a difference?

By what we see and hear with our own eyes and ears. Seeing a tough 16-year-old cry when a bus with her message on its side rolls out of the garage for the first time. Hearing a 14-year-old say that writing has helped her cope with the loss of her beloved grandmother, and with the murder of her cousin. Seeing a bashful 10-year-old finally take pride in her drawing and say "Art makes me feel like I can do anything." Knowing that a 13-year-old boy would rather come to poetry class than do anything else, year after year.