Founded in 1997 to support the philanthropic pursuits of artists, The Art of Elysium pairs volunteer artists with Los Angeles-based communities. The Art of Elysium has supported a diverse range of individuals, from those experiencing homeless to children, adults, and seniors with physical health concerns. The nonprofit organization offers more than 100 community programs per month in the following areas.
Fashion and Design
The Art of Elysium primarily serves communities in need. With an understanding that art can be an impetus for social change, The Art of Elysium offers a number of fashion and design programs designed to support the self-esteem of individuals who feel unseen or overlooked. The programs, which range from sewing to face-painting classes, are led by artists in fields such as fashion photography, jewelry and accessory design, among others.
One of the nonprofit organization’s flagship programs is its fashion show production and modeling workshops, which blend after-school programming with elements of Project Runway. In addition to learning the skills required to create a successful fashion show, individuals participating in this program gain vital emotional and social skills required for collaboration. In addition, there are programs in fashion photography, interior design, and sketching, the latter of which is a bedside program specifically designed for use in pediatric hospitals.
Music and Movement
Programs in music and movement range from piano lessons and live concerts to martial arts and boxing sessions. Leadership positions are open to singers, songwriters, bands, yoga practitioners, and martial artists. Given its ability to uplift and inspire, music has been at the forefront of The Art of Elysium’s programming for adults and children who are nearing the end of their lives. Beyond working together to write lyrics and compose songs, volunteer artists in the past have performed intimate bedside performances and taken patients to concerts. Meanwhile, the movement-based programs, such as yoga and boxing, have demonstrated success in empowering individuals with physical disabilities, as well as those dealing with social hostility, bullying, or the effects of age.
The Art of Elysium’s music and movement programs serve upwards of 13,000 individuals per year and, beyond these activities, include a songwriting and mental health workshop which stresses coping mechanisms and strategies for dealing with negative thoughts.
Film and Theater
Writers, directors, actors, and even animators contribute to The Art of Elysium’s film and theatre programming, which serves upwards of 6,000 individuals per year through partnerships with New York University, the University of Southern California, and Palo Alto High School, among other educational institutions. However, programming is also available to seniors and people experiencing homelessness who are interested in finding their creative voice, working with others, and developing confidence. Projects range from the creation of one-act plays to completely funded feature-length films.
Beyond those partnerships, the film and theatre programming includes an improv program in which actors volunteer to help youth with visual impairments or developmental disabilities to practice social skills. In addition, there is an animated storytelling program for children with developmental disabilities.
The Art of Elysium’s visual arts programming, which includes custom workshops centered around painting, sculpting, photography, ceramics, and origami, serves as many as 5,000 people per year. Recognizing the therapeutic nature of art, the nonprofit group creates programs specifically designed to help children, seniors, and others who are dealing with emotional stress, trauma, depression, and anxiety.
In addition to its art therapy classes and mentoring workshops offered through partnerships with agencies such as The Sumbandila Scholarship Trust in South Africa, The Art of Elysium operates a public art program called the VIEW Program, through which volunteers design public art installations to be donated to communities in need. It also operates Kids Clicking Kids, a hospital-based photography program launched in 2007 as the result of a partnership with Canon.
Art and Self-Esteem
With an understanding of the social and emotional challenges faced by young people as a result of extended hospital visits, The Art of Elysium partners with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to provide a variety of arts-based resources and support programs. The programs are designed to help reduce and eliminate feelings of social isolation, depression, and anxiety, as well as low self-esteem.
Beyond improv classes, styling and makeovers, self-portraits, yoga, martial arts, and woodworking activities offered through the Girl Talk and Yo Lo Tengo programming curricula, The Art of Elysium manages co-ed programs such as Creative Options, Teen Power, and Northpoint. Designed for at-risk teens between the ages of 13 and 20 years old, Creative Options is a once-a-week, 24-week program that emphasizes the role that daily stressors play in the decision-making process and helps young people to deal with those stressors while also improving peer interactions. Teen Power is specifically designed to improve the self-esteem of children with Type 1 diabetes. Northpoint uses art therapy to help those between the ages of 13 and 19 years old to develop positive coping mechanisms, greater confidence, and communication skills.