What is Arts Connect?
Arts Connect is Hilltop Artists’ community-based program for girls who are involved with the Pierce County Juvenile Court. The program consists of two quarterly 10-week sessions in glass, ceramics, photography, printmaking, or other art forms. A team of adults, including professional artists, leads these weekly, three-hour classes at community sites, with support from probation officers, CASAs (Court Appointed Special Advocates), and volunteers.
Hands-on projects are generated from group discussions and writing activities about identity, society, and healthy lifestyles. A family-style dinner is served and girls can arrive early for snack, homework help, or to talk with mentors about the week’s ups and downs.
Making a Difference
At the beginning of each session, the girls discuss needs in the community – such as hunger, homelessness, and domestic violence – and the local nonprofit organizations that respond to those needs. Through conversation over family-style dinners and while making art, they select an organization to support.
At the end of the session, friends, family, judges, probation officers, and the public are invited to the showcase where the girls exhibit their artworks and read their reflections on their personal experience and journey through art. They also educate the audience about a community issue, which they are empowered to help resolve by selling their artwork with the proceeds going to their chosen organization or by donating what they have made to enliven board rooms, entry halls, or areas where clients gather.
Thank you so much for using your creativity to support our program! You’re amazing! – Prison Pet Partnership
Who is eligible to participate in Arts Connect?
Arts Connect is open to any girl who lives in Pierce County and is on diversion or probation. Girls are referred to the program by their probation and diversion officers. In 2016, we added AC2, a program modeled after Arts Connect that serves girls who are in foster care through the Pierce County Dependency program.
Arts Connect incorporates research-based best practices using hands-on arts learning, reflective writing, adult mentors, public presentations, service learning and philanthropy to achieve the outcomes of reducing the risk behaviors that lead to girls’ recidivism. This is accomplished by the following goals:
• Foster a sense of personal and group recognition and belonging
• Build self-esteem and creative expression
• Develop pro-active attitudes/ behaviors regarding learning, accountability and contribution
• Develop communication skills through projects that require reading, writing, collaboration and presentation
• Develop healthy relationships with pro-social adults and other girls
• Build conceptual thinking and problem solving skills through a balance of independent and group activities
• Develop leadership skills and positive connection to community
How You Can Help
- Prepare healthy dinners for the group
- Help transport girls to and from weekly sessions
- Donate to Hilltop Artists
- Join the Arts Connect Giving Circle. Learn more about this philanthropic group of volunteers below.
- ‘Like’ the Arts Connect Facebook Page to get updates about our events and program
- Sign up for one of the volunteer opportunities below