As budget cuts reduce resources for our neediest citizens, arts and humanities groups continue to serve these constituents, filling the gaps in social services when they are most needed. Most of us know the power of creativity to touch lives, but it changes lives, as well—especially the lives of people on the margins of society: children and adults with disabilities, senior citizens, homeless children, and teens at high-risk for academic failure and gang violence.
Why? Creativity is a universal language that makes connections where seemingly insurmountable barriers exist. Just look at Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords who has made a remarkable recovery from a brutal attack, largely thanks to music therapy.
For a person who cannot speak, a dance performance can communicate even the most complicated message.
For a person with dementia or Alzheimer's who cannot communicate effectively, a painting rich with color and life may say more than words ever could.
For incarcerated youth and adults, research shows that creativity-based programs, like mural making, are a positive and cost-effective means of intervention. Inmates enrolled in arts programs demonstrate reduced infractions, reduced racism, and increased cooperation and reduced rates of recidivism.
By engaging in creative opportunities, people of all abilities can experience a fuller, richer life and contribute to the growth and vitality of our community. At AHCMC, our Artists & Scholars in Community Grants annually serve nearly 1,000 people a year at program such as the CHI Centers, Montgomery Station (a psychiatric rehabilitation program), Boys & Girls Club, and senior citizens at Springvale Terrace, an assisted living community.