Director’s Corner | Summer 2020

Vision Spotlight | Posted on July 24, 2020

When we started this journey 10 years ago of building an art, music and design center for youth in East Palo Alto so they could develop the creative skills they need to succeed, we knew then that it would take hard work, fortitude, and determination to stay the course no matter what happened. While health disparities, racial injustice, and economic turmoil disproportionately affected the youth of East Palo Alto well before the recent pandemic and protests, the disparities surrounding these issues have now heightened.

Now we are taking a page from our playbook and modeling creativity as we nimbly strive to respond to the ways the world is changing around us. We are examining how we can be of even more service in this time of great urgency.

Youth have told us what they need right now from EPACENTER to make their home, community, and the world a better place to live. They want us to:

  • Expand beyond arts programming and skills development in the arts, and address the racial and economic challenges they are facing
  • Enhance our offerings to include programming that focuses on their emotional needs so they have the ability and fortitude to persist and succeed in life
  • Create synergies between these different types of programs so that their experience feels seamless and sustains their progress as they age

So that’s what we’re going to do.

We recognize the importance of revising our approach at a time when the world is changing in profound ways – a time when the young need many types of skills to move beyond surviving to thriving.

That’s why I’m pleased to announce that, in addition to teaching youth how to build their creative thinking skills through arts instruction, we are also adding workforce development programs that will help youth transition to careers in the creative economy. How might this work? An EPACENTER student in our painting classes can become a medical illustrator when they grow up. A young digital animator can design cool video games as a career. We’re going to help youth tap their creative talents and identify paths that connect them to fulfilling careers so they can sustain their families and community.

But that’s not all.

We’re also adding art therapy, music therapy, and drama therapy programs to build our students’ socio-emotional resilience. An ability to adapt helps us weather and thrive in moments of great change, so we’re focusing on our students’ mental health. Our therapy programs will help youth manage anxiety, depression, and other conditions, and help them build a sense of resilience.

And we’re committed to offering all of this and more to youth-in-need in East Palo Alto for free.

As our community experiences and heals from the pandemic, navigates through the recession, and fights for a more just world, EPACENTER will continue being here – encouraging new ideas stemming from the creativity we foster at EPACENTER. We are excited about this evolution in our development and will continue sharing with you how this promising future unfolds.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss and hear your ideas. Feel free to reach out to execdirector@epacenterarts.org.

— Nadine Rambeau | Executive Director