Adarsh Alphons founded ProjectArt in 2011 with a simple goal: “to put paintbrushes in the hands of as many children that don’t have adequate access to arts education [as possible].” What began as just a few classes in one public library in Harlem has grown to eleven locations across three boroughs of New York City, allowing ProjectArt to provide free instruction to hundreds of schoolchildren. The program was founded on the premise that art education has a significant impact on the lives of individuals and that it should be freely available to everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status.
ProjectArt’s classes are held in local libraries; they are placed in accessible locations and have deep roots in the community. Host sites are strategically chosen to reach neighborhoods that lack adequate arts education in their public schools. Operating in Upper Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, the program works closely with local guidance counselors to selects students who would benefit most from the opportunity to attend art classes.
A photo posted by ProjectArt (@projectartnyc) on Apr 20, 2015 at 10:14am PDT
Each course meets ten times a semester for weekly one-hour sessions. Classes are taught to three separate age groups (ages 4–7, 8–12, and 13–17) to best suit the needs of the students. The courses operate on a project-based curriculum, which allows participants to “express themselves constructively, set and attain goals that address their technical and critical thinking skills, and show their completed projects at the end of the semester.” By limiting class sizes to just ten students, ProjectArt ensures that everyone who participates in the program has an opportunity to receive instruction and feedback from the teacher. The course culminates with a program-wide showcase, which takes place in distinguished galleries around New York City. The exhibition gives the students an opportunity to see their work displayed and appreciated by a wide audience, and helps bring the importance of art education to the public’s attention.
The grant the Vilcek Foundation has given to ProjectArt will specifically fund art classes based in the Corona neighborhood of Queens. The grant will help the organization expand its program at Corona Public Library from serving just 27 students in spring of 2014 to an estimated 120 students in fiscal year 2015, making it one of the largest host sites in the city.
With the help of volunteers and sponsors, ProjectArt’s programs have grown rapidly in its first three years of operation. However, they don’t plan to stop there: The organization boasts an “easily scalable arts access model” and hopes to continue expanding the number of classes offered, bringing quality art education to many more students across New York City.