What does revolution mean to you?



What does revolution mean to you?

Some students have already started, but most public schools across the country start school this week. It is another year of the doldrums, where students are equally excited and horrified about returning to their schoolhouse. Another year of 21st century students learning in a 19th century model. Another year of students reading books about people or subjects that have no relevance to them. Another year of students staring outside, yearning to play, but stuck inside memorizing facts so that they may take a test that has nothing to do with knowledge or comprehension. Another year of mostly white teachers teaching mostly black and brown youth. Another year where the achievement gap remains unchanged.

So, what are we gonna do about it? How do we change these modes of educating our youth? How do prepare teachers to be effective and engaging? How do we trust our teachers to do their job, and have their achievement based on student comprehension and not on standardized tests? How do we trust our students to be more than empty vessels that need to be “filled,” and that we, adults, know all of the answers? How do we uplift the black and brown children that have been forgotten and discarded for 400 years and 15 days?

How do we revolutionize education?

That’s a question Arts Corps has been seeking to answer for the past two years, if not longer. We were founded on the principles of providing access to arts education to students that previously did not have it. We were founded to provide a place for teaching artists to work in their field, with youth who did not know that you could be an artist. We were founded to “Make Art Anyway.” 

But what does that mean? 

Author and Nobel Prize winner, Andre Gide said “Art begins with resistance – at the point where resistance is overcome.” Artists are the resistance and by making art anyway, we are combating oppression and creating a better world. By making art anyway, we are telling our education system that our voice matters. That through our expression, we are demonstrating comprehension of the world in which we live, and how we can operate within it. Using art as our tool, we are showcasing cultures of people around the globe, the people that look like our students, the people that are our students. This year, we are going to be working closely with teaching artists and classroom teachers to shift the culture of school to be more inclusive. We are going to work with students and ignite the creative power of youth, and we are going to work with our community to build a better education system for all of our youth.

What does revolution mean to you?

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We are Water

Charleena Lyles.
Say her name.
Say her name.
This weekend, Charleena Lyles was shot and killed in her home, in front of her children, by two police officers. Charleena Lyles was a 30-year-old Black mother. Charleena Lyles was a member of the Sand Point community. Charleena Lyles was pregnant. Charleena Lyles was shot and killed Sunday morning by two White police officers while they investigated her report of an attempted burglary. 
We at Arts Corps, grieve for Charleena’s four children, for the child in her womb, for her extended family, and for her community. There is a hole in their hearts that can never be filled.  We also feel saddened for the school community at Sand Point Elementary where Charleena was a parent and where Arts Corps’ Creative Schools Initiative  integrated arts into academic curriculum, boosting students’ confidence and creative freedom.  
It is too early to determine if the officers involved will be brought up on charges. It is not too early, however, to advocate for justice. Arts Corps calls for a fair and thorough investigation into these events. Knowing that the criminal justice system disproportionately affects people of color, we ask that the police departments reexamine how officers are trained. Police in other countries are trained to deescalate a situation, fire warning shots, or aim for non vital areas. Yet, that seems to be missing from US training protocol. Why?
Black people are repeatedly killed by police officers. The police officers responsible for the shootings are either acquitted, or not indicted at all. We, at Arts Corps, mourn. We cry.
We demand justice.
Charleena Lyles is the most recent victim of police violence, but unfortunately she is not the only one. Arts Corps continues to grieve the countless other black lives lost at the hands of police officers, including Philando Castille, whose shooter was acquitted in court on Friday. In May, the Department of Justice decided not to bring charges against the killers of Alton Sterling despite cell phone footage of the incident. Officer Betty Shelby was recently acquitted of murdering Terence Crutcher, though that was also caught on video. The officer that killed thirteen year old Tyre King killer was recently acquitted, and his actions justified. 
Say their names.
The criminal justice system in our county has deep-seated biases that urgently need to be addressed, and Arts Corps lends our voice to the growing movement of individuals and organizations calling for reform, namely the Black Lives Matter movement  and its work to “build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.”
Fred Hampton said, “you can’t fight fire with fire, you fight with water.” Arts Corps knows the power of the arts, and wants to extinguish inequity in our communities. We need to come together as a community to help end this brutal cycle of police violence and create a better world for all of us.  
If you wish to donate directly to Charleena’s family, please visit her gofundme page: https://www.gofundme.com/bdgbc8pg
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Please Give a Big Arts Corps Welcome to Estevan Muñoz-Howard!

Dear Arts Corps Community,

I am very excited to introduce Arts Corps’ new Development Director Estevan Muñoz-Howard. Estevan holds great expertise in community organizing, social justice philanthropy and arts advocacy, and shares his creative energy and warm smile with everyone he meets. I am certain that Estevan will have a great impact on the sustainability and growth of Arts Corps, and we could not feel more fortunate to have him on our team.

Estevan Pic

Prior to joining the staff at Arts Corps, Estevan worked as Development Director with Social Justice Fund NW, a public foundation that makes grants to support community organizing projects throughout the region. He currently serves as president of the Washington Bus Education Fund and chair of Fair Elections Seattle, two organizations that work to increase representation and fight for equity in our political system. He also serves on the advisory board of Bailadores de Bronce, an arts organization that celebrates the rich history of Mexican culture and dance. He has previously served on the Seattle Arts Commission, and is excited to help grow Arts Corps’ capacity to provide quality arts education to all of Seattle’s young people. Estevan lives in South Seattle with his amazing wife, Elisha, and their two awesome kids, Aurelio and Benito.


A Message from Estevan: I’m really excited to join the staff at Arts Corps! I’ve been a big fan for several years and am eager to do what I can to help grow the Arts Corps community. Arts Corps works at the intersection of art and social justice–a powerful space that provides us with immense capacity to transform lives and communities. Just as the personal creation of art can be a profoundly liberating experience, so too is the process of cultivating a generation of people who have unlocked their own creative power. This is what I’m excited about, and what I hope to foster in my role on the development team.


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Taking a Moment to Recenter

A few weeks ago, Arts Corps’ staff members embarked on a short journey to the land of tall trees, rocky rivers, and tree houses! Away from the hustle and bustle of Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, we were able to reconnect and recenter. We reflected on staff culture, social justice, hopes for the future, AND how to take over the world with art (naturally).

Our Education Director, Tina LaPadula, captured some great moments during and after our solo reflection walk, which was organized by our Creative Schools Initiative Program Manager, Hillary Moore. The walk gave us a chance to think about where we are as an organization and where we want to go. Enjoy!

From left to right: Elizabeth Whitford, Hillary Moore, Shelby Handler and Devon de Lena


From left to right: Omana Imani, Eduardo Mendonca, April Heding, and Bernadette Scheller


Leslie Collins


A special thank you to our supporters at Treehouse Point for letting us use their beautiful space!

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A Very Special Announcement

Please give a big Arts Corps welcome to Omana Imani!


Dear Arts Corps Community,

I am very excited to introduce Arts Corps’ new Program Director, Omana Imani. Omana brings great expertise in youth development, social justice and program evaluation, as well as experience in growing a powerful program to scale. I have no doubt she will be another transformative figure at Arts Corps, and we are so grateful to have her on our team.




Omana is originally from the Bay Area and recently moved to Seattle. With over twenty years experience working in community non-profit services, she most recently served as the Deputy Director for Youth UpRising in East Oakland, CA. As the Deputy Director, Omana was responsible for managing the organization’s programs and staff, forging community partnerships, and helping to lead organizational operations overall. Prior to joining Youth Uprising in 2005, she was the Director for Underground Railroad, a community based organization dedicated to developing the political analysis and artistic skills of young people in the Bay Area.

A message from Omana: I am so excited to be working with Arts Corps! It’s an honor to be part of such a dedicated team of artists, community workers and partners striving to create possibility for young people. I look forward to working with the team to drive forward our goals of: increasing access to high quality arts classes to students who otherwise would not have it, developing young people’s skills and imagination, and providing safe and fun spaces for youth to create visions for their lives and the world. It is the visions of young people which have always given me so much hope for what is possible. – Omana


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CSI Artist-in-Service: Amy Pinon

“Music is the art of thinking with sounds.”  – Jules Combarieu

I'm with Amy

I am a recent graduate of The Art Institute of Seattle with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Audio Design Technology. Which is a fancy way of saying that I’ve invested a lot of time learning about the technical applications of music and sound! I am a vocalist, audio engineer, and educator. I write and perform acoustic music with my musical partner in crime, and together we form a band called I’m with Amy.

Toward the end of my time in college, I realized that I had a passion for education and I merged my love for audio with teaching by developing an audio curriculum for my Senior Portfolio. I have since taken an arts-integration approach to audio production – a personal commitment to addressing the lack of technical arts education available for young people and a nod to the opportunities I had before college to discover the world of audio production in the first place.

Our ability to learn new skills relies on the availability of programs and the support of experienced professionals to teach us. I realize I have had many teachers in my life that have gone out of their way to help me in some way. Be it a small action or a large undertaking, it is always a gesture I appreciate and would like to pay forward in my own endeavors. With a commitment to such investments in young people, we not only foster a positive creative environment, but also allow an up-and-coming generation to become more socially and civically responsible.

Music has always been the most powerful force in my life, and as such, I use it to express, create, and innovate everyday. My true passion in life is to help the next generation of aspiring young artists and engineers realize their potential through the creative processes of arts and music. I am humbled to serve as a Creative Schools Artist-in-Service at Madrona K-8 to highlight the importance of my art form in the school.



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