|Organization:||ARTS | A Reason To Survive|
|Still from Inocente, documentary film|
Inocente is an intensely personal and vibrant coming of age documentary about a young artist’s fierce determination to never surrender to the bleakness of her surroundings. At 15, Inocente refuses to let her dream of becoming an artist be caged by her life as an undocumented immigrant forced to live homeless for the last nine years. Color is her personal revolution and its extraordinary sweep on her canvases creates a world that looks nothing like her own dark past—a past punctuated by a father deported for domestic abuse, an alcoholic and defeated mother of four who once took her daughter by the hand to jump off a bridge together, an endless shuffle year after year through the city’s overcrowded homeless shelters and the constant threat of deportation.
Three years ago Matt D’Arrigo, Founder of ARTS | A Reason To Survive, received a call out of the blue from filmmaker Sean Fine. He was making a new film, at the time called Resilient, and was looking for a young teenage woman using art to build resiliency. Doing research online, Fine came across an article about ARTS, a San Diego-based organization that uses therapeutic arts programming, arts education, and college & career preparation to create pathways to success for youth facing adversity. ARTS serves youth facing a myriad of issues: socioeconomic challenges, homelessness, abuse, illness, foster care, and mental, physical, emotional, and behavioral challenges. There are many young women in the program, but after talking with Fine, D’Arrigo new exactly who he was looking for: a homeless teenager who had been in the program for about three years, Inocente.
The resulting documentary, Inocente, is a powerful testimony of the human spirit and the power of the arts to build resiliency and transform lives. It has changed Inocente’s life—she is now traveling the country with the film selling her artwork, making a living as a full time artist, and her family is no longer homeless.
The film not only puts a face to the staggering social issues Inocente experiences and to ARTS’ own programs, but also provides a voice to the overall importance of the arts and arts education in the lives of children and youth. The film is a vehicle for any organization providing youth arts programs to use in order to show impact, to create awareness on why their programs are important, and provide a call to action for the support they need.
Despite scientific research and mountains of data on the benefits of arts education, it’s a constant struggle for youth arts organizations to “prove” why and how their programs are making a difference and changing lives. We’ve designed evaluations to try to prove arts education’s impact on measurable items like math scores. However, John Bare, from the Arthur M Blank Family Foundation, observes this in his ARTSblog post:
“As a result, we miss out on the uncertainties, nuances, and grand questions that are part of complexity. It is here, in complexity, where another opportunity is hanging out there for the arts, one where both the risk and potential reward are higher. Even if the evaluation models work out, there is only so much to be gained by pitting the arts against other independent variables on tests of short-term metrics. There is something bigger out there: We can identify the situations where arts contribute to sweeping social change.”
This film is one way to powerfully convey the importance of arts education, in this case to save a life. “Inocente” is currently traveling the country to various film festivals and is available for screenings at schools and non-profit agencies. The producers, Shine Global, are also in the process of creating curriculum to accompany the film. To learn more about these initiatives, please visit www.inocentedoc.com.
ARTS has now entered a new phase of its growth. With the film, they are taking a more active role in advocacy and awareness of the arts as a prevention and intervention vehicle for at-risk youth. To support these efforts with tools of engagement, they are turning their San Diego headquarters into a national training center and developing a menu of support services for individuals or organizations looking to provide similar programs. These include coaching, consulting, training, and fiscal sponsorships. To learn more about these initiatives please contact Matt D’Arrigo email@example.com.
|Organization Contact:||Matt D'Arrigo|