Our programs are changing lives in Detroit’s communities

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in-school arts

Teaching Artists brought K-12th grade students in Detroit area public and charter schools an opportunity to boost learning in core academic subjects by tapping into their innate creativity thought theater, and digital media and visual arts. 

Teaching Artist Aja Dier leads drama integration at Pasteur Elementary, DPSCD.

Teaching Artist Aja Dier leads drama integration at Pasteur Elementary, DPSCD.

Teachers who hosted our artists-in-residence reported that our programs helped their students improve their social skills, develop their ability to collaborate, and become more confident. Residencies provided a platform for students to share their own stories and perspectives with one another—in arts activities that cultivated respect and understanding.

Classroom teachers benefited too! We delivered professional development trainings that helped teachers address changing curriculum standards and practice new ways to engage their students with arts-based strategies that explore academic subjects through painting, song writing, and movement.

In-School Arts also reached out beyond the school day by cultivating new after-school partnerships with Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, and the Community Education Commission’s GOAL Line program at the City of Detroit’s Northwest Activities Center.

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students served in visual, performing, literary and media arts education programs in elementary and secondary schools

22 in-school artist residencies in 8 K-12 schools

145 hours of direct professional development to Teaching Artists

61 hours of direct professional development to teachers

out-of-school arts

Out-of-School Arts after-school and summer programming gave students in Southwest Detroit a space to connect with one another year round and develop lasting relationships grounded in artistry and creativity. 

Many youth continued to follow their interests in their favorite art forms and Living Arts’ roster of dance, visual arts, and digital media arts classes created a trajectory for them—that begins in infancy and spans their teen years—to build artistic skills and hone their talents as emerging artists. Our students developed their personal capacities too, with evaluation showing a positive impact on critical thinking, perseverance, and other skills that support success in school. This also increases the likelihood that they will graduate from high school—as shown by our graduating seniors who will be entering college in fall 2019!

We also launched a new series of parent and family engagement workshops, Creative Family Saturdays. Partnering with American Indian Health and Family Services, Congress of Communities, Garage Cultural, and Talking is Teaching MI, we presented family-friendly workshops that integrated movement, art, play, and literacy development in children under six. The three consecutive Saturday workshops were a big hit with families and helped to strengthen community partnerships.


students served in youth classes and workshops including year-round visual, performing, literary and media arts education programs 

60 distinct class offerings

677 total number of enrollments

13 Teaching Artists employed

91% of students received financial scholarships 

1214 total hours of programming

90 hours of direct professional development to Teaching Artists

15 parents on the Advisory Council

Detroit wolf trap

Detroit Wolf Trap brought drama, puppetry, dance, and music to Head Start classrooms across the
Detroit area. 

A family in a visual arts workshop at Creative Family Saturdays.

A family in a visual arts workshop at Creative Family Saturdays.

Toddlers and preschoolers used their voices, bodies, and imaginations to gain skills that will ensure they can succeed in kindergarten. One-on-one coaching integrated into each artist residency gave early childhood educators a chance to develop their own abilities to integrate artful learning throughout the entire day.

Living Arts continued to innovate around this proven program model by working—for the first time—with independently owned childcare centers and home-based daycares that are members of the Brightmoor Quality Initiative in northwest Detroit. Our Teaching Artists worked to help children build early literacy and social emotional skills and share effective strategies with childcare providers and caregivers. We also began to work for the first time with grandparents and other adults who regularly care for children in their homes in Southwest Detroit in partnership with Congress of Communities and Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation.

 Previous studies have established the incredible effect that Detroit Wolf Trap programs have on young childrens’ kindergarten readiness. In 2018, we launched a three-year evaluation project that will explore the impact that arts integration has on early childhood educators’ teaching practices and that will have relevance for the early childhood sector nationally.


students aged three months to six years served in school and community settings 

37 Parents served

128 Teachers served

57 Teaching Artist residencies

717 hours of direct professional development to Teaching Artists

42 hours of direct professional development to Teachers

57 Teaching
Artist residencies

Teatro Chico

Teatro Chico, Living Arts’ public performance series, has provided a way for artists, youth, and the Southwest Detroit community to collaborate and present culturally responsive theater, music, and dance since 2014. 

This past year was dedicated to developing works that will debut in 2020. In collaboration with the artist collective The Aadizookaan, media artist Sacramento Knoxx, and Southwest dance organizations Compas, Ballet Folkorico Moyocoyani Itzel, and Motor City Street Dance Academy, Living Arts launched the creation of a series of public art film installations that will reflect Southwest’s rich history in dance and explore the power that stems from creation and artistic expression.

As part of that project, Living Arts welcomed artists Penny Godboldo, Chinelo “Chi” Amen-Ra, and Osvaldo “Ozzie” to conduct a three-week intensive workshop with our youth dancers. Their community performance, “Sofrito of Cultures,” addressed Afro-Latino identity and intergenerational learning. It was documented by Knoxx and The Aadizookaan and will become part of our upcoming Teatro Chico public art installations in 2020.