Meet James Miles.

Arts Corps is excited to welcome James Miles as our next executive director. James brings extensive experience in arts education, most recently as the Director of Education at Urban Arts Partnership in New York City. James has led workshops for multiple celebrated theater programs and taught theater and education as an adjunct professor at NYU. He serves on the board of directors for the Association of Teaching Artists and the Teaching Artist Journal. A graduate of Morehouse College and Brandeis University, James has presented on arts, technology and education and provided teacher professional development around the world.

James Miles and his (potential) family band album cover

“When I first read about Arts Corps, I knew I had to find a way to work here. It is such a dynamic organization, rooted in artistic exploration and dedicated to social justice,” says James. “I am thrilled and overwhelmingly grateful to be asked to join Arts Corps as Executive Director. I look forward to collaborating with staff, youth, board, and Arts Corps supporters, so that we can build on the already impressive accomplishments of this wonderful organization.” 

James was selected after a rigorous search that drew more than 60 highly qualified applicants through an inclusive process that involved Arts Corps board members, staff, teaching artists, and youth. “We set out to find someone who would both respect the incredible work that Arts Corps is already doing AND bring new passion for our next chapter,” says Sara Lawson, Arts Corps’ board president. “We were looking for a leader with a lived commitment to racial and social justice, a passion for youth empowerment, and the resourcefulness to work for change within. And we really wanted someone who would embrace—and grow with—our passionate community of risk-takers, artists, teachers, and young leaders. James is an extraordinary match for what we envisioned. He brings tremendous experience along with deep curiosity, humility, and a strong collaborative spirit. We’re excited about what’s next, and we’re approaching this transition with a renewed appreciation for the strength of the Arts Corps community and the power of this work.”

James will join the Arts Corps team starting Monday, January 30th. Outgoing executive director Elizabeth Whitford will be on hand though mid-March to ensure a smooth transition. “I’m so happy to be handing the reigns to James Miles, someone I admire tremendously,” adds Elizabeth. “James’ deep understanding of arts education best practice, his racial and social justice leadership, and his national connections will serve Arts Corps well. And he’s a really funny, kind, and dynamic person to boot!”

Please join us in welcoming James to the Arts Corps team, and plan to join us at La Festa del Arte on March 17th at Fremont Studios to meet James in person!

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Thoughts on asking for donations in a post-election world

From Elizabeth Whitford, Executive Director

“Now more than ever.” How many times have we heard that in this season’s end of year appeals? I confess I even put it in our appeal letter, and yet it has not sat comfortably with me. It is not that it is not true—it is true—it’s just that while some organizations must make big shifts to respond to the challenges ahead, I woke up to a Trump presidency with the unwavering clarity that what Arts Corps needs to do is to stay the course. From long before that day, Arts Corps has been doing the work it needs to do—growing the creativity, resiliency and leadership of low-income youth of color.

Arts Corps’ work is deeply rooted in our commitment to racial and social justice. 4 out of 5 of our students are from low-income families, and 77% are youth of color. Many of our youth are also Muslim, immigrants and/or identify as LGBTQ. These youth have the least systemic access to an arts education and have also long been targets of both systemic oppression and acts of hate. This harmful environment has only heightened, and the landscape of educational funding and priorities that will impact our youth under the Trump administration is of great concern.

Arts Corps programs create a buffer from this oppressive environment—bringing joy, cultural expression and belonging into schools and after school programs—which is essential to the resiliency and development of our youth. Arts Corps programs also foster the creative and critical thinking skills that we know will be needed to address the complex and growing challenges we face now and long into the future.

These are the leaders we need. Witness the power of our youth at Arts Corps’ 2016 Arts Liberation and Leadership Institute through this short documentary made by Arts Corps alumna and Communications Lead, Amy Piñon.

Arts Corps is investing in the creative leadership of today: in young people doing cultural work to create spaces for healing and resistance for themselves and their communities, and in the courageous young people who are at the front lines in our social justice movements, giving us hope for a more just, inclusive and culturally-vibrant future.

I say all of this in the midst of the year-end giving frenzy. There is a lot of noise this year, and I feel unsure about entering it. But I fear that an ironic added impact from Trump’s election is that our annual giving will slump amid all the pressing needs. So I say this: We need your support today. We need it as much as we always have. Please make a year-end gift to Arts Corps, so that we can keep investing in the resiliency and creativity of our current and future young leaders.

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What’s next will be amazing


In our NEXT annual report, we hear stories from members of the Arts Corps family who are helping to shape what’s next for Arts Corps.

You’ll hear from one of our Creative Schools Initiative teaching artists, Jéhan Òsanyìn, and one of the 5th/6th grade teaching artists she’s has been working with, Ms. Wunderlich, as well as her student Briza.

Robert Eyerman talks about his early experiences as an Arts Corps break dance student and his current endeavors as a professional break dancer, teaching artist, and our newest board member.

Monica Elenes, who’s been a leader within Youth Speaks Seattle and the Hip Hop Artist Residency, is now one of our newest classroom assistants and our Youth Speaks Seattle bookings request coordinator.

Click the NEXT cover above to read all of the stories in our annual report.

ArtsCorps_Logo_Horz_CMYK_redYou may have noticed that we have a new logo. You’ll see more updates to our brand look over the next few months, including anew website design coming soon. Arts Corps is evolving and growing as an organization and we hope you like our new look.

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We’re Hiring For the Creative Schools Initiative

The Highline Creative Schools Initiative is a three-year research project in the Highline School District funded by the U.S. Department of Education. This project explores the impact of arts integration on student academic mindsets by placing teaching artists who integrate theatre or visual arts into 5th and 6th grade language arts classes.

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Save the Date : La Festa Del Arte 2016!

Mark your calendar for March 18th, 2016 for La Festa del Arte–Arts Corps’ biggest party of the year! This gala event will feature dinner and drinks, an amazing raffle and a huge stage production starring youth and adult artists from Arts Corps’ programs.


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2014-15 Annual Report

Friends, As the year comes to a close, we hope you’ll take a moment to check out our 2014-15 Annual Report: “Risk Takers, Makers and Culture Shakers,” which you may have received in the mail recently. In it, you’ll read 5 stories of the impact the arts have had on the lives of Hollis Wong-Wear, TJ Paaga, Lashaunycee O’Cain, Nemith Phum and Tien Vo. You’ll read about break dancers, teachers, poets and musicians–what motivates and inspires them, and why the arts are such a big part of their lives.

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