Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Art League Is A Good Will Pick

November Morning by Web Bryant
"By nurturing the artist, we enrich the community." — The Art League in Alexandria, Virginia

It's a statement that has been one of the guiding principles of The Art League, which has served the greater Washington D.C. metropolitan area since 1954. The league is a dynamic nonprofit organization, one that meets its mission through its gallery, fine arts school, art supply store, and arts outreach program.

Although recognized as one the best small charities in the greater Washington D. C. area, The Art League is much more. It is a model arts program, one of the best in the country. For more than 60 years, it has been responsible for providing a supportive arts environment where thousands of people have discovered, developed, and contributed to fine arts.

The Arts League has almost 60 years behind it. 

Originally founded by six female art students as The Art League of Northern Virginia, the group worked to foster art and art appreciation, sponsor lectures, encourage study, and hold exhibitions. As the organization grew, it eventually incorporated as a nonprofit and expanded to include the Washington D.C. area in 1967, shortly before playing a critical role in adapting the historic Torpedo Factory Art Center into artist studios owned by the City of Alexandria. Today, it is home to six galleries.

One of those galleries is managed and curated by The Art League, which provides a fellowship for more than 1,000 artists. Every month, member artists participate in juried exhibits that showcase original art by artists throughout Washington D.C. and the surrounding mid-Atlantic region.

As amazing as it is, the gallery is only the beginning. Its school and outreach give artists an opportunity to write their own stories. Here is a visual sampling of those stories from artists and enthusiasts alike.

As the video illustrates, much of what makes The Art League unique is that it has grown to maintain a non-accredited arts school, open to all, providing instruction to nearly 7,000 students every year. The classes are taught by some of the most talented and well-known artists and instructors in the country.

The school also provides exhaustive outreach programs. The school hosts special skills-training programs for youth, hosts sponsored summer art camps for at-risk children, offers special IMPART programs for wounded warriors, and operates the award-winning SOHO (a Space of Her Own) art mentoring program that serves low-income preteen girls in Alexandria.

A little more about the breakthrough SOHO program.

SOHO, which was developed in collaboration with The Art League and the Alexandria Court Service Unit, provides a 16-week arts and life-skills program, concluding with the redecoration of the girls' bedrooms. It's there that these girls find a safe, stable environment to rediscover creativity and develop meaningful relationships.

SOHOGirls are each matched with a female adult volunteer mentor from the community and they meet weekly to participate in team-building activities, learn life skills lessons, eat a healthy dinner, and participate in an art lesson taught by a professional Art League artist. The curricula covers significant ground, which includes self-esteem, relationship building, and other life skills that might not develop anywhere else.

SOHO is offered completely free to its participants, and all mentors serve on a volunteer basis. The program depends entirely on the generosity of the individuals, foundations and companies that provide financial support to fund art lessons and projects, and the mentors and other volunteers who generously give their time, energy and skills to the program.

The Art League Is A Liquid Hip Good Will Pick.

At least once a month, Liquid Hip highlights good will efforts undertaken by people with big hearts. We don't score them. That belongs to you.

We chose The Art League because it provides a successful blueprint for nonprofit art organizations with dozens of elements that could be duplicated by other communities. It addresses art on every level, ranging from at-risk youth to working novice and professional artists in the area.

You can learn more about The Art League and its various programs by visiting its site. There are also a number of ways to help the program with a donation. The Art League also held a Razoo campaign that coincided with a community-wide, 24-hour fundraising program hosted by Act for Alexandria. Programs that raise the most money within 24 hours in April are awarded additional funds and grants.
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