Like many organizations, the inspiration behind Art is Power was hardship. Art is Power’s Executive Director, Patrice Milillo, taught fifth grade at a school in San Jose, California, where financial difficulties threatened the opportunity of his students to attend Science Camp. The solution was to unite teachers, students and their families, community members, and local businesses to take stock in their neighborhood school and provide resources to empower not only the students, but the community as well. This was achieved through a school hosted event called Family Fitness Night. The event succeeded in bridging the gap between the school site and the surrounding community. It promoted health and nutrition, raised awareness about the struggles and strengths of public educational institutions, and raised enough funds to ensure that all 5th grade students at Orchard School could attend science camp.
Encouraged and informed by the success of Family Fitness Night, Bring Back the Arts was born. The goal of this event was to again bridge the gap between the neighborhood school and the community. This was achieved by celebrating San Jose’s rich artistic and cultural heritage. The event included food, music, mural painting, dance competitions, skateboard demos, pottery, and craft making stations. The proceeds funded two years of art and dance instruction by San Jose’s Future Arts Now, a local after-school arts program provider.
As a result of the impacts and implications of these experiences, Patrice Milillo resigned his tenure as a teacher to invest himself fully in Art is Power’s mission to examine and showcase initiatives from around the world that expand personal, social, ecological, and economic opportunities through Creativity and the Arts. It is our hope that through the research and travel, Art is Power will discover ways to foster quality education and healthy communities.