COMMUNITY THROUGH CREATIVITY
Our mission is Community Through Creativity and our priority is building community and economic opportunity for the people living and working in the Valley Arts District by creative means.
We do this by focusing our efforts in three areas: community collaboration, creative arts education, and creating economic opportunities for local artists, makers, and small business owners.
Our home is in the Valley Arts District, a 15-block area straddling Orange and West Orange. The neighborhood is economically diverse and borders a food desert. It is full of longtime residents as well as new families drawn here by the interesting opportunities available. By utilizing creativity, the arts, and relationship-building, we strive to be an active community partner in this diverse and vibrant neighborhood.
When artist member, Frank Meo, reached out to us about hosting an art exhibit to raise money to support Puerto Rico after Hurrican Maria, we enthusiastically agreed. Later that day, local musician and teacher, Miguel Ito, contacted us. His family and friends were directly impacted by the hurricane and he wanted to host a night of music with all proceeds and donations going to hurricane relief. We were thrilled to be able to connect these two generous community members with each other and partner with them both to produce an evening of music, art, and coming together that raised over $1,000 and a roomful of supplies to support Puerto Rico.
We produce free and fun events, offer donation-based and low cost workshops on topics relevant to the local residents. We work with local community partners, provide meeting space, creative space, and a gathering spot. We facilitate connections between community members who can help each other. We collaborate with community members to host creative events.
All of these initiatives are created with the goal of bringing people together and creating an environment of creative collaboration resulting in a stronger community who are invested, connected, and able to develop a stronger neighborhood.
Our New Seen exhibition series, was created to give young artists the experience of a professional art show. In 2018, we worked with the talented art students of Orange High School. The students learned about presenting and pricing work for a gallery show. At the opening reception, they met and mingled with ValleyArts supporters and community members while telling the stories behind the art they created. When several pieces sold, it was hard to say who was more excited - us or the artists! Sharing our knowledge with these young artists, teaching them practical skills, and supporting them in their creative endeavors embodies what our emerging arts show is all about. We are already looking forward to working with them again next year!
Creative Arts Education
We provide after-school arts programming in the elementary schools of the Orange school district and arts summer camps for children and teens. We work with local high school art students to provide gallery show opportunities. We create multi-age opportunities for creating public and outdoor art.
Our programs are not just about art, but about all things creative - including visual and performing arts, music, cooking, gardening, movement, and more.
Providing creative opportunities for children and teens is important for developing confident and creative thinkers who do better in school and who grow into strong community members.
When local textile artist, Arshad Aziz, showed us his work, we knew immediately he should be in our boutique. The boutique was created to provide a place for local artists and makers to sell and gain exposure, and Mr. Aziz was a perfect fit. His enthusiasm about his work was contagious and we were excited to be able to provide him an opportunity to sell. His one-of-a-kind wearable and usable art – clothing, hats, scarves, and home goods - has proved to be very popular with our visitors. During our annual Artfull Holiday, a month-long show and sale during December, Mr. Aziz was our top selling vendor! We continue to work with Mr. Aziz and our other talented makers to provide a viable venue to sell and build their businesses.
We provide exhibits and spaces for visual artists to display and sell art, host regular events to showcase local talent, and operate a boutique for local artists, makers, and businesses to sell their goods.
We offer workshops, talks, and networking events for local residents and entrepreneurs. We offer studio and office space at low rent for small businesses. We facilitate connections between people who could partner or help each other grow.
Most of our boutique contributors are women- or minority-owned companies in the local community.
Creating economic and business growth opportunities for our community members is good for the whole neighborhood.