We started as twelve individuals with a passion for artistic expression and a need for an alternative system. Three of us partnered up: a 70-year-old woman with an intellectual disability and a mental illness, a self-taught, unconventional artist, and a professional in the field of developmental disabilities. We brought nine other people together who were living in a residential setting and had a developmental disability.
Our shared vision was to create a working, person-centric, artistic community that provided a work environment of equality. We’re proud to keep this vision a reality everyday.
The program model that we developed together after a year spent getting to know each other and working together as a community consists primarily of each member taking ownership of the space and having an equal voice in the decision making process. Through that process we identified the four core values that guide our collaborative work:
- inspiring artistic expression
- building community
- promoting self-respect
- developing independence
At the 30-day mark, each new artist meets with the program director to talk about his or her wants, needs, hopes, and dreams. They work together to turn these aspirations into goals in each of the four values, and thus develop an artist’s plan.
We have seen tremendous growth in our artists as they achieve their goals and move on to challenge themselves even more.