Arts Education International

The Problem

Arts Education International is a 501(c)3 non profit organization committed to providing sustainable, community-based arts programs for orphaned, abandoned and traumatized children all over the world. We currently have five programs in Ghana and Sierra Leone serving over 600 children, and will soon be expanding domestically. We hire indigenous artists, musicians, dancers and dramatists to teach workshops for the kids. The children we serve have grown up under the most harrowing of circumstances. Some were orphaned as a result of the AIDS epidemic, while others were forced into combat as child soldiers in a brutal, 11-year civil war. Our programs provide: Emotional Rehabilitation Through the Arts The exploration of artistic outlets of expression provide children with the ability to confront trauma on their own terms. Participating in the arts restores the ability to play in children who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. Connection to Indigenous Arts By connecting orphaned and abandoned children with the bearers of artistic tradition within their own communities, we offer children a connection to their own cultural heritage that would otherwise be missing in cultures where traditions are passed on through family lineage. Community Empowerment By employing indigenous visual artists, musicians, dancers, dramatists and writers, AEI emphasizes the importance of sustainable programs in which communities help themselves. By maintaining a close working relationship with local artists, and with caretakers and administrators at the orphanages and children’s homes we serve, we can more effectively address the specific and unique needs of each community in which we work. Career Opportunities For those children who show a particular proclivity towards or dedication to a specific discipline, we provide opportunities for private study and eventual apprenticeship with prominent artists who have maintained successful careers within that discipline.

Plan of Action

Our vision is achieved through a three-fold program employing the following components: Two-week Annual Arts Camps Our programs begin with a two-week, immersive arts camp at each children’s home and orphanage we serve. During this camp, five hours of daily instruction is provided in music, visual art, dance and drama. The goal of this first camp is to introduce the children to the artists and the disciplines they instruct. The immersive style of the program allows the children to focus on the artistic instruction, without the distractions of their daily lives that often include adult responsibilities. In other words, this is a time when the kids get to be kids. The camp culminates in a public community recital and art show, where the children showcase all that they have learned. The two-week arts camps occur every year, at the same time of year, giving the children a consistent and exciting event to look forward to each year. Year-round Instruction Twice-weekly group lessons are provided beginning two weeks after the annual arts camp, and continuing through the year. These art, music, dance, drama, and writing lessons are offered to every child at the orphanages and children’s homes we serve. Private Instruction and Apprenticeship Any child who shows a proclivity towards or dedication to a particular discipline is offered the opportunity to take private lessons with an instructor. Children fourteen years and older have the opportunity to rehearse and perform with participating artists in an apprenticeship setting.

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