RAAC seeks help from the community

Contributors are like snowflakes, no two are the same. You mRockford-Area-Arts-Councilay support the Rockford Area Arts Council because you enjoy seeing new artwork from local artists at ArtScene, or you may be involved with an organization RAAC works with to bring the arts to everyone. You may know a young person whose life has been changed by one of our programs, like ArtsPlace.

I would like to tell you about Thomas, an ArtsPlace Apprentice.

Thomas came to us because his guidance counselor saw untapped potential in a young man that would blossom in the right environment. The counselor explained that Thomas had been placed in foster care and was wirthdrawn and not engaged in school. Art was the only class he was interested in although his skills were rudimentary. Thomas was accepted into the program and then we received a call from his art teacher concerned about how the other ArtsPlace apprentices would treat him having been the target of teasing and ridicule by classmates. We assured the teacher that we establish a safe and encouraging environment for everyone at ArtsPlace.

Thomas started the program as a very withdrawn young man, not making eye contact or speaking to anyone but the arts instructor, who he graciously accepted help from. By the end of the program Thomas was engaged with fellow apprentices and said, “thank you for letting me come to ArtsPlace. Can I come back next year?”

The counselor followed up at the end of the academic year very pleased to say now everyone knew Thomas.

Thomas decided to give the dance team a try and with great success. He currently dances with the Rockford Dance Co. performance troupe. ArtsPlace has built his confidence level which is only topped by his smile. He is “Mr. Awesome,” just like his business card reads.

“ArtsPlace means a lot to me because if it wasn’t for ArtsPlace I would not be where I am now. ArtsPlace helped me with my art and showed me how to be creative and to be yourself and come up with ideas of how you can make it [your art] better.”

RAAC is not unique in that it is facing great uncertainty with the state budget hanging in the balance. We need your support now more than ever. It will help us continue the mission we are so passionate about, arts for everyone!

Anne E. O’Keefe
President & CEO
Rockford Area Arts Council

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