Artivate sees the transformative power of the arts as an essential part of community life – enhancing education and creating connections that transcend language, culture, and individual circumstances to cultivate cultural awareness and a broader world perspective.
Artivate engages communities to create interactive arts experiences that inspire learning.
We offer arts-based learning to motivate and invite audiences to participate through performances and workshops representing a wide range of artistic disciplines and cultural traditions in order to captivate the imagination and activate human potential. Through our focus on education, we enable access to the arts for all, particularly under-resourced communities, throughout Maryland, the District of Columbia, and northern Virginia.
Artivate was established in 1995 as Class Acts Arts, the educational outreach arm of the Institute of Musical Traditions, a Maryland non-profit focused on presenting concerts which preserve and promote American and international folk traditions. Founded by community arts activist, Busy Graham, Class Acts Arts served roughly 25,000 students and teachers with 80 school programs that first year, working with seven touring artists: dancers, storytellers and musicians. Now 25 years later, Artivate facilitates an average of 1,300 programs a year, reaching more than 200,000 children, teens and families at 250 sites across the Greater Washington, DC area, providing programs for libraries, community organizations, local theaters, town festivals, and correctional facilities, as well as schools. Designed in response to a demand for high quality, ethnically diverse cultural arts programs in schools, our roster has expanded to over 32 solo or ensemble artists, one-third of whom tour nationally, and now includes theater and visual arts. Many of the artists embody their cultural heritage, including artists from Argentina, Ecuador, India, Egypt, Ghana, Ukraine, and Quebec. In addition to our partnerships with dozens of professional artists and public and private schools, we collaborate with other arts education organizations and presenters such as Smithsonian Associates, Wolf Trap National Park for Performing Arts, Hylton Performing Arts Center, M-NCPPC’s Publick Playhouse, and other local theaters to develop programming and supplement tours.
In 2000, founder Graham designed and launched Project Youth ArtReach (PYA). Initially created to address the benefit of expressive outlets for incarcerated youth, PYA has grown from one detention site with only a handful of workshops to more than 300 programs per year at some six sites annually, and now engages detained men and women as well as teens. In addition to educational workshops in visual, literary and performing arts, we provide a variety of performances (20-25 per year) for larger groups inside some detention sites. Working with the Montgomery County Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, and The Choice Program of the Shriver Center at UMBC, Project Youth ArtReach has received local and national recognition for its excellent curriculum and meaningful impact.