Art in the Neighborhood has an eight-year history of initiating programs and projects and bringing them to successful completion. We currently serve children ages 5-12 who live in three low-income housing communities in Brattleboro. We recently expanded our mission to include children served by Health Care and Rehabilitative Services, a local mental health agency. Read more about the communities we serve below.
Multimedia art classes
We offer year-round classes with a variety of media and materials. These classes include painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, clay/pottery, puppetry, mosaics, book illustration, art and poetry, fabric arts, and mural painting. All classes are taught by professional artists and instructors.
Student art exhibits
At the end of the fall and winter/spring semesters we invite parents and community members to an “Art Party” and student exhibit in order to forge stronger relationships between Art in the Neighborhood and the wider communities we serve.
For several years, the program has sponsored a public mural project as a way to engage the students more fully in the wider community, and to make the community aware of the accomplishments of children from low-income neighborhoods.
Permanent murals painted by Art in the Neighborhood children now exist on the walls of the Hanna Cosman meeting room in the Brattleboro Municipal Center, in the Brattleboro Transportation Center, and on the basketball court at Ledgewood Heights. Each of these projects received local press coverage in the Brattleboro Reformer, further enhancing student pride and community connections.
Ledgewood Heights is an affordable-living complex of 48 units administered by the Brattleboro Housing Partnership. About 100 children live there. Several years ago the community lost its part-time Americorps volunteer because of funding cuts. When we started our program there in March of 2013 there were no specific on-going programs for children at Ledgewood.
Classes take place in the Ledgewood Community Room, a fairly small space for the number of children who come to art class. However the children seem to create their own work spaces. One child works under a card table and calls it her studio.
For two summers in a row, students created outdoor murals that now hang on a fence around the basketball court. There are sixteen 2’ x 4’ panels of brightly colored flowers and other images that act as a visual reminder of the program and document pride in the Ledgewood community. Our public opening for the installation of the first set of eight panels received press coverage in two local papers.
Moore Court is a 28-unit affordable housing complex administered by the Brattleboro Housing Partnership. Like Ledgewood Heights, this community also lost its part-time Americorps volunteer because of funding cuts. As a result, before we started our program there in September of 2013, there were no specific on-going programs for children at Moore Court.
Classes take place in the Moore Court Community Room. Despite a sometimes crowded room, the students seem to thrive. Some of the children we work with at Moore Court have an incarcerated parent, or some other major family or economic problem. The students are unbelievably resilient, and participate in the art classes with focus and joy.
At times the Resident Services Coordinator occupies an adjoining office. She communicates information about the art classes to the residents and drives the van when we go on field trips.
Westgate Housing is a tenant-led affordable non-profit housing complex occupying spacious grounds on the outskirts of Brattleboro. Westgate has a community center building, a van, and staff from the Boys' and Girls' Club to run a free after-school and summer lunch/activities program year round. Art classes add to this on-going program.
Westgate also has a governing Board with majority tenant representation, and various community events throughout the year. The active participation of the Club staff in the art classes adds greatly to the success of the program, ongoing since 2008.
Health Care and Rehabilitative Services (HCRS)
HCRS is a mental health agency whose mission is to “provide creative,collaborative, and compassionate health care services that are responsive to the needs of our communities.” The children’s division, with whom we work, provides a comprehensive system of care for children experiencing emotional or behavioral difficulties, along with education and support for their families.
In the spring of 2015, Executive Director Mollie Burke approached HCRS about the possibility of offering art classes to their clients. HCRS directors were extremely enthusiastic, and we embarked on a pilot program for the HCRS summer camp, offering two classes per week at the HCRS summer program site at the Guilford Fairgrounds.
Due to the success of the pilot program, Art in the Neighborhood and HCRS embarked on a more long-term collaboration. We currently offer once a week, after-school classes to children who are clients of HCRS. Classes are taking place at the Brattleboro Middle School art room and we plan to continue this program throughout the year.
The children we work with in this program are those most in need of the healing power of art making.