Open Stage for Living Arts

Join us on Wednesday, September 26th for Open Stage for Living Arts. An evening of vocal artistry, music, poetry, dance and performance art featuring Mahogany Jones and Karilú Alarcón Forshee, Open mic opportunities are available to anyone, so share your talents or cheer on the performers. The event will take place  from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. at Mexicantown favorite La Terraza,  

Suggested cover: $5 per adult and $1 per child. Cover includes appetizers and soft drinks. A cash bar and full menu will be available for purchase.

5 minute performance slots are available on a first come first serve basis. For more information, please contact

La Terraza is located at 8445 Vernor, Detroit MI, 48209.

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 Mahogany Jones

Mahogany Jones

 Karilú Alarcón Forshee

Karilú Alarcón Forshee

Living Arts Receives Funding from Metro West Chapter of Credit Unions

Living Arts is pleased to announce that we have received funding from Metro West Chapter of Credit Unions for our Detroit Wolf Trap program. In our most recently completed program year, Detroit Wolf Trap reached more than 600 young children, 200 caregivers/parents, and 80 early childhood educators in the city and metro Detroit area. Thank you to Metro West Chapter of Credit Unions for your support!

Read the press release here

 A Detroit Wolf Trap family involvement class. Photo by Julianne Lindsey.

A Detroit Wolf Trap family involvement class. Photo by Julianne Lindsey.

Living Arts receives $540,000 commitment to support early childhood outcomes in Detroit

Partnership support comes from CFSEM, Erb, Kresge, and W.K. Kellogg Foundations

DETROIT, Mich. (July 2018) – Living Arts, a Detroit nonprofit that brings high quality and year-round arts education to the city’s youth, is proud to announce it has received several multi-year grants totaling over a half million dollars to support the expansion of Detroit Wolf Trap, a program that will provide intensive professional development, mentoring and coaching for Detroit area early childhood educators, parents, and caregivers by introducing them to proven performing arts-integration strategies through classroom residences and professional development workshops.

 Teaching Artist Alesha Mickens uses music to engage young learners in a Living Arts' Detroit Wolf Trap Class. Photo by Julianne Lindsey.

Teaching Artist Alesha Mickens uses music to engage young learners in a Living Arts' Detroit Wolf Trap Class. Photo by Julianne Lindsey.

“This generous partnership will amplify and deepen Detroit Wolf Trap’s proven impact on teachers, parents, and students in classrooms and homes across Detroit, by elevating the role and effectiveness of educators and caregivers in supporting the early education of our region's youngest children,” said Alissa Novoselick, executive director of Living Arts. “It is exciting to know that these organizations are working collectively to  ensure that not only the children but the adults engaged through Detroit Wolf Trap programming will meet achievable goals to continue best practice for early learning through the arts,” added Roberta Lucas, master teaching artist and Detroit Wolf Trap’s founding director.  

The contributing organizations -- Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Foundation, Kresge Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation -- will provide long-term classroom residences for children ages 3 months to Kindergarten. Additionally, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s award will enable Living Arts to expand evaluation efforts to demonstrate the positive impact Detroit Wolf Trap has on the teaching practices of early childhood educators in Detroit. Living Arts’ Wolf Trap program, an affiliate of the national Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, has proven to strengthen children’s literacy, math, science and social emotional skills in its first phase of evaluation, completed in 2017.

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a full-service philanthropic organization leading the way to positive change in our region. As a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations, the Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development, and civic affairs. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed more than $1 billion through nearly 65,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair, and Livingston counties. For more information, please visit

The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Foundation’s mission is nurturing environmentally healthy and culturally vibrant communities in metro Detroit, consistent with sustainable business models, and supporting initiatives to restore the Great Lakes Ecosystem. Established in 2007, the foundation funds grant applications that benefit the environment, arts, and Alzheimer’s research.

The Kresge Foundation was founded in 1924 to promote human progress. Today, Kresge fulfills that mission by building and strengthening pathways to opportunity for low-income people in America’s cities, seeking to dismantle structural and systemic barriers to equality and justice. Using a full array of grant, loan, and other investment tools, Kresge invests more than $160 million annually to foster economic and social change. Kresge’s Detroit Program collaborates with civic, nonprofit and business partners to promote and expand long-term, equitable opportunity in Kresge’s hometown for its current and future residents. For more information visit

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit

About Living Arts

Founded in 1999, Living Arts is a nonprofit organization that engages Detroit youth, teachers and families in transformative experiences in the performing, visual, literary and media arts. Implementing arts education programs for nearly 3,000 early learners, elementary and secondary students annually, Living Arts’ programs increase youth’s academic achievement, develops leadership and artistic skills, and strengthens schools and communities.

Living Arts receives support from the Ford Motor Company Fund, Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Dresner Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Foundation, W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, ITC, and PNC Foundation.


Get to Know Living Arts' Newest Board Member

 Living Arts Board Member Cintia Pugliese.

Living Arts Board Member Cintia Pugliese.

I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and at 13 years of age moved to Michigan with my family, since my dad was offered a job at Ford Motor Company.  While his initial offer was for a 3-year assignment, it eventually got extended until he officially retired from the company a few years ago.

My family and I have learned so many life skills from this major life adjustment, including, but not limited to, resilience, strength, patience, and perseverance. We also have formed and developed an unbreakable bond as a family unit that I feel is so strong because of all the obstacles we had to overcome at both the individual and collective level as a family unit.

From a young age, I knew I wanted to do something related to teaching but I also enjoyed the analytical side of things, which made it perplexing when it was time to choose a major.  After some consideration, I chose to major in Psychology at Oakland University and graduated in 2002.

I started working full-time when I was fairly young, at 19 years of age.  I learned so much from having a full-time career and going to school at night, such as discipline, accountability and responsibility.

As far as work experience goes, I have experience in purchasing, such as conducting purchase orders, bidding processes, managing supplier relationships, preparing documents for customs, and communicating with customers.  As a Spanish instructor/tutor, I have experience teaching to individuals as well as to groups, preparing lesson plans, and giving individualized homework. It is so fulfilling to watch my students’ progress and help them along the way.

As a proud mom of a 14-year old son (Jack), I knew I wanted to get involved and make a positive impact in children’s lives, so when my friend Anne Osmer introduced me to Living Arts, I felt that was perfect timing to get involved and help a great cause.  I’m looking forward to helping our youth with this wonderful organization.


Meet our 2018 Peer Mentors

Living Arts is pleased to offer two peer mentor positions to Out-of-School Arts students for a third consecutive year. Peer mentors assist in The SPOT Teen Open Studio class, working closely with the class teacher and leading their peers. This program is made possible with support from the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs New Leaders Grant.

 Tanykia "Diamond" Davis

Tanykia "Diamond" Davis

Tanykia “Diamond” Davis is a 16 year old artist and entrepreneur. She has been dancing competitively for three years with Living Arts and has been helping her community since 2012. She attends University Preparatory Academy and will graduate in 2019. Diamond is very proud that she could help connect with peers and create something they are excited about as participant in The SPOT and one of Living Arts’ first Peer Mentors in summer 2016. Diamond says she feels accomplished knowing that she’s moved on to other parts of her life while having helped people along the way.  

"Through our summer project, I am hoping to get more experience and opportunities to learn about event planning, budgeting, and collaborating with artists to curate exhibitions. I am also hoping to find ways to allow our students to have a good time in an event that is geared towards them, and gain good experience out of the opportunity. This will also give me good experience as I work towards studying business in my college career."

 Karla Rodriguez

Karla Rodriguez

Karla Rodriguez is a 14 year old student in Cass Tech High School’s class of 2021. and has participated Living Arts’ Out-of School Arts programs since 2015 and was present at the very first meeting of The SPOT that year. Karla says she “fell in love with the program right from there” and she has continued to a constant, regular participant and contributors. Karla continued, “Now I often find myself helping new artists in the program find their way around the studio. But by far the best part of The SPOT has be the instructors—they are the ones that help provide the care-free and open atmosphere!” 

"I am hoping to gain better planning skills as a result of planning the event for Living Arts. I also hope to strengthen my leadership skills within a group. I think that as a result of this exhibition, it will help attract more children and teens to The SPOT and other Living Arts programs."

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Learning From the Inside Out

April 16th is recognized nationally as The Week of the Young Child™, an annual celebration hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) celebrating early learning, young children, their teachers, and families. As we prepare to close out the week, Living Arts Detroit Wolf Trap teaching artist, Alesha Nicole, shares below recent gleanings about the process of learning through newly opened eyes as a mother of a young child. Alesha leads Detroit Wolf Trap experiences for families every week at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center.

It is an innate desire, an intuitive harmony, and an inexplicable fulfillment of an inherent need. “In” – the prefix of each descriptive word here. It is a phenomenon that takes place IN us. Our connection to music is something that translates, traverses, and transforms, all the while uniting and relating one being to another. So often we forget how early this begins for us. It truly is part of our make-up, a gift given to us by our Creator, and once we are born, we begin to explore that gift in our earliest years of development. This is the awesome wonder of music in early childhood education.

 Alesha Nicole teaching a BabyArtsPlay!™ class. Photo by Julianne Lindsey.

Alesha Nicole teaching a BabyArtsPlay!™ class. Photo by Julianne Lindsey.

In everything that we model for them, we are teaching our early learners so much about themselves and being a part of society. My son is now seven months old, and he has been part of both Living Arts’ In-School and Out-of School programs ever since he was an embryo in my womb.  It is amazing to watch what he is picking up on his own with not only developmental milestones, but also with his own connection to music budding in his twenty-six inches and sixteen pounds of joy and fervor. While he’s with me in the three-to-four year old classes, I see what I have to look forward to in a few years. They are using their imagination, singing and playing at the same time, and recognizing music’s contribution and participation in stories and playtime.  My son also joins me in an after school music program with kindergarteners, and I am currently preparing them for a performance. As they eagerly get ready to demonstrate skills they’ve learned in music class for their families, they are having many “aha” moments.

The series of classes, “From the Inside Out,” has been centered on the understanding that music begins inside of us and then reveals itself in performance, expression, and creativity.  The children are using what they’ve learned about steady beat, rhythm, using the head voice, chest voice, and diaphragm to implement all of these concepts in a medley of songs. It is amazing what their five year old beings are uncovering. There are musicians inside of all of us. 

Early learners remind us so much about the enthusiasm and excitement of just being alive. Every new skill is delightful for them. Whether it be clapping, stomping, singing, playing an instrument, or keeping the beat, it is something to be happy about!

One significant experience comes to mind. I was six months pregnant, sitting at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center for a day of family involvement classes that I lead with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. In between spoonfuls of greek yogurt and other brand new cravings, I was having a thread of beautiful moments with young children as they explored music in brand new ways. It was as if they and I were simultaneously sharing that pure, innocent, new zeal for life.

I was teaching a mixed age group from infants to three year olds. We were in the middle of a series called “Sounds All Around Us,” in which we explored musical elements like steady beat, rhythm, tempo, pitch, and tone through objects in our surroundings, and body parts.  Every class begins with singing our Hello Song, written by Ella Jenkins, circled around our big drum as we open up the experience through a sense of community and togetherness. On this particular day, part of our main activity was using the colorful lightweight balls to discover sounds with the drum in unconventional ways.  As we had done before, we set the balls on the drum, and the sweet tots took much delight in watching as the balls bounced off of the drum like popcorn when they hit it with their hands. The harder they hit the drum, the higher the balls bounced. The more hands we had hitting the drum, the more power we had. This was so enjoyable for them. We continued to play with the drum in new ways. I sat on the floor, flipping the drum over and tilting it up, and I asked them one leading question:

“How else could we use the balls to get a sound out of this drum?”

There was silence as they thought hard about this question.  I took one ball in my hand and, with much anticipation, threw it inside the drum--this was very exciting! Two twin brothers grabbed the balls and began throwing them with all of their might.  Not only was this supportive of gross motor development, but they were learning so much about cause and effect. The booming sound of the drum was a like a special rewarding treat every time they hit it using their pitcher’s arms. What a neat way to make science and music into a fun game!

In a world full of iPads, video games, TVs, smart phones, and other technology, it is so encouraging to be a part of moments of like these. We have to remember what it’s like to interact and interconnect with the people and tangible things around us. Music is just one method of doing this--it’s our shared language and the miracle of sound evolving into a sensation we do not have words to explain.

About the author: Alesha Nicole is a singer, songwriter, pianist, and arts educator. Along with working as a Teaching Artist with Living Arts, Alesha writes, produces, and releases her own music. She released her first album "Smiling Through Tears" in 2012 and her second album "Spread Love, Share Joy" in 2014. She will release her third album, "In Spirit In Truth," this year through a live recording event. She truly enjoys empowering youth and adults through the arts. It is the perfect combination of creativity and interconnectivity that inspires her to share her gifts and her fun-loving spirit with the world. She dreams of using her musical talents as a tool in spiritual healing, self discovery, uniting communities, and bringing reconciliation to families at a full-time capacity. AleshaNicole also serves as the worship leader at her church. Alesha is a bilingual artist, with a B.A. in Spanish from Oakland University, and is currently teaching the Baby Arts Play family involvement classes. She loves this company and all of its amazing people. This weekend on Saturday, April 21st 11am-1pm, Alesha can be found leading a music-centered Detroit Wolf Trap experience at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center (Mexicantown Mercado) at Detroit Public Television’s “Word Ready, School Ready” event for early learners--please join us at 2826 Bagley St. Detroit, MI 48216.

Living Arts Students Make Artful Chocolate with Bon Bon Bon

Youth artists from Living Art's Out-0f-School Arts programs visited Bon Bon Bon's beautiful new location in Hamtramck on Friday, April 6th, 2018 to create the chocolates that will be given to our VIPs during our annual fundraiser, An Evening For Living Arts.  Many of the participants were artists in our teen visual art open studio, The SPOT, which focuses on exposing teen artists to a variety of art forms and professional artists, experimenting with materials, developing their own artistic voice, and deciding the direction they want to take with their own projects. The Bon Bon Bon workshop was a perfect fit because it allowed our students to put their skills to work exploring a new art form. And what art form is more fun than chocolate?! 

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"The Bon Bon Bon workshop was one of the most amazing things I've tried. I liked mixing the different types of chocolate and toppings, then decorating the bon bons and trying them afterwards. There were so many different combinations you could choose from. It made me think about ways I could turn it into a career and it's definitely something on my bucket list to try again." - Dearya Williams

The Bon Bon Bon instructors expertly described the different flavor profiles of the chocolates and fillings and what combinations paired better together based on the flavors. In addition to the flavors, there was an visual element to their creations in the how the final product looked. The toppings ranged from dried strawberry dust, purple sugar, dried cherries, saltine crackers, nuts, and even chocolate pearls. The artists had two hours to sample and experiment with a wide variety of chocolates, fillings, and toppings to get the perfect decorations for their eyes and perfect fillings for their taste buds. We hope the VIPs enjoy the treats made with love by our young artists. Thanks Bon Bon Bon! 

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About the author: Zack Bissell is our Out-of-School Arts Program Manager. Zack grew up in Frankfort, MI, a small beach town up north near Traverse City, which makes him a true beach bum at heart. He has a BA in Arts and Humanities with a minor in Spanish and a specialization in Latin American and Caribbean studies from Michigan State University, where he graduated with high honors. Music, travelling, culinary arts, and languages are some of his biggest passions, taking him to many countries around the globe. Besides English, Zack also speaks Spanish and Portuguese, and can understand basic Korean. Since graduating from MSU, he completed a year of service with AmeriCorps in Albuquerque, New Mexico working in HIV prevention and education, followed by 7-months of teaching English in Korean public elementary schools.

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