Uniting Communities Through the Power of Art

  • June 5, 2020
Panels of Hope “Panels of Hope” mural painted by Youthful Offenders at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility (Clarksburg, MD). This mural is installed at Northwood Highschool in Silver Spring, MD.

From Our New Executive Director

Dear Friends,

On March 16th, I became executive director of Artivate after 17 years as Artivate’s director of Project Youth ArtReach. During these difficult times, my passion for this work – to unite communities through the power of art – is unwavering despite the challenges. Most disturbing, the recent killings of unarmed black Americans and the ongoing protests in response have highlighted the profound racial injustice that persists in the United States. It is completely unacceptable. We at Artivate stand in stalwart support of our friends, families, artists, and communities of color, specifically African Americans.

With the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread closures, our programming is on pause. Yet we cannot help but consider how the arts serve as a critical tool to connect us to and remind us of our shared humanity.

Twenty-five years ago, our founder, Busy Graham, launched Class Acts Arts – now Artivate – from her home office. Collaborating with a small number of performing artists and with the backing of the Institute of Musical Traditions, the goal was to bring high-quality music, storytelling, theater arts, and dance to young people in schools. With a deliberate focus on folk and heritage traditions, and by tapping into the diversity of cultures across the greater Washington, DC metro area, Artivate has become known for professional, authentic performances which engage and inspire children and families throughout the region. In 2000, we launched Project Youth ArtReach to provide incarcerated teenagers with opportunities to experience a range of performances, workshops, and cultures, to alleviate stress, acquire new skills, and build self-esteem.

Project Youth ArtReach programs are educational and inspiring, and teach our youth to be more open-minded and respectful of those who might not look like them or come from the same background, instead of being threatened by them. The artists provide important reminders of what makes us all human.

~Robert Green, Secretary of Public Safety & Correctional Services, State of Maryland

We remain committed to our mission of providing meaningful, diverse arts experiences for our communities, with a vow to continue to promote the learning, listening, connecting and understanding that contributes to the conversations and reduction of racism. As we work to figure out next steps for Artivate and our role in the community, we reflect on the past, hope for brighter days, and send heartfelt appreciation to all of you – artists, presenters, partners, donors and friends.

Claire M. Schwadron
Executive Director


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