7 Nonprofits Inculcating Love For The Arts

Art has the unique ability to bridge divides between cultures and communities. An education in the field can improve the mind and even enrich other areas of study. Many nonprofits across the nation provide both an opportunity to experience the creative form as a spectator, as well as a foundation for personal exploration. In no particular order, here are some organizations encouraging appreciation for all forms of art.

Kicking off the list at #1, the Romare Bearden Foundation was established in 1990 to preserve the legacy of the eponymous African-American artist. Located in New York City, the Foundation houses a collection of Bearden's works, as well as an extensive archive of books, articles, letters, photographs, and other materials. In addition, the group supports various scholarly and public programs, including symposia, panel presentations, and school projects featuring the artist's work and life.

Through its programs, the Foundation acknowledges the professional and personal encouragement Bearden provided other creators, as well as the scope of his scholarly interests, by supporting the creative and intellectual development of up-and-coming African-American artists and students. One of its programs, Romare Bearden in the Public Realm, invites discussion on how the figure's life experiences are reflected in his work, notably in the form of political cartoons and public art commissions.

Next at #2 is GoggleWorks Center for the Arts. The Reading, Pennsylvania institution claims to transform lives through unique interactions with art. GoggleWorks offers a place for creators to develop skills, ask questions, experiment freely, and discover inspiration. Offering everything from classes and workshops to galleries and a theater, the Center seeks to expand the boundaries of artistry, personal growth, and appreciation for material culture.

Established in 2005, on the site of a historic 19th-century optical glass lens factory, GoggleWorks serves over 250,000 visitors a year, claiming to be one of the largest interactive art centers of its kind in the country. The institution offers a variety of programs focused on art education, such as the You Create, We Make! workshop that transforms childrens' submitted drawings into hand-blown glass sculptures. Meanwhile, an after-school artist program offers students the opportunity to develop creativity through collaborative projects.

Coming in at #3 is the Arts Council of Indianapolis. The organization advocates for the need and importance of broad community funding and support for a thriving arts scene throughout Central Indiana. The Council promotes innovative ideas and programs that connect artisans, audiences, businesses, and cultural groups with opportunities to explore and expand the region's creative network.

The Arts Council owns and operates two performance and exhibition spaces: the Indianapolis Artsgarden, which hosts public performances and visual arts exhibitions, and Gallery 924, a non-profit gallery space that provides a mixture of programming that highlights central Indiana contemporary creators in curated solo and group shows. Elsewhere, the Council's public projects create and interpret city murals and other visible installations.

In at #4, Young Audiences' mission is to inspire children and expand learning through the arts. Founded in 1973, Y.A. serves students in pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade. Incorporating curriculum-based programs in music, dance, theater, literature, media, and visual arts, Y.A. fosters creativity, while encouraging youth to be productive and caring human beings. The organization comprises centers in two locations: New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania.

Young Audiences hosts several performances a year, in genres like Latin percussion and West African drum and dance traditions. Meanwhile, workshops cover a wide range of subjects, from Chinese calligraphy to musical performance and rhythm. Each program connects students, teachers, and families with professional instructors and artists in every field. According to Y.A., the programs promote cultural awareness and help develop critical thinking skills that will mold children into future leaders and thinkers.

Entering the list at #5 is the Arts and Education Council. Since 1963, the St. Louis, Missouri-based organization has provided the region with creative and cultural experiences. The united arts fund is supported by private contributions, and provides assistance and training for organizations involved in artistic education and outreach programming throughout the bi-state area.

The Council's ultimate goal is to provide children with an arts education that, according to research, contributes to academic success, higher self-esteem, improved discipline, critical thinking skills, and higher graduation rates. Grants and awards include the Katherine Dunham Fellowship, which promotes diversity in leadership by training African-American undergraduate and graduate students in arts administration. Meanwhile, the Creative Impact Fund provides grants to institutions that demonstrate immediate need for support in creative projects.

Moving on to #6, the Lied Center for Performing Arts' mission is to educate, inspire, and entertain the people of Nebraska through the performing arts. Based in Lincoln, the Center accomplishes this goal through the presentation of creators across all forms and genres, providing first-hand experiences for youth and college students, and creating new artistic works that contribute to the diverse culture of the region.

The Lied Center offers two performance venues: the grand Main Stage auditorium and the Johnny Carson Theater, which is a black box venue for intimate shows and recitals. Meanwhile, the Center works in tandem with partner organizations to provide community learning programs, such as a series of artist master classes, as well as the organization's pre-performance talks, during which a guest speaker gives background and context to a show before a main stage event.

Lastly, at #7 is the Academy Center of the Arts. Serving the community of Lynchburg, Virginia, this institution engages a purported tens of thousands of Central Virginians annually, through stage events, arts education, outreach, and gallery exhibits. The Academy states that its programming is essential for a thriving community, and leads to improved grades for students, increased memory retention rates for seniors, and a decreased poverty rate.

The Academy provides an array of arts-centered programs, from shows in one of the institution's galleries, to youth theater programs. The facility's other offerings include performance venues, a pottery studio, and classes in the visual and performing arts. According to the organization, its focus is to broaden perspectives, provide creative avenues for self-expression, and enrich quality of life.