Spotlight Arts Organization: Art 180

October, 2013

“ART 180 is more than just an art class, it's more like a family that shares one common activity. Some problems, life struggles, can be more than just a struggle–it can be art, made in your own way.” - Niani

ART 180 was founded in 1998 to give young people the chance to express themselves through art, and to share their stories with others.

ART 180’s work with young people will turn lives and communities around 180 degrees.

... Young people as a valuable part of our community.

... Creative expression because innovation is the heartbeat of growth.

... Communication through the arts that encourages self-awareness and expression of diverse perspectives, removes barriers of fear, creates a better understanding of humanity, and illuminates hope.

... Compassion and kindness to heal division and resolve conflicts.

... Community, because by caring together we’re capable of making even greater creative contributions that enhance the well-being and quality of life for the whole.

... Change as a gift that empowers young people to transform our world through creative expression.

ART 180 partners with other nonprofit organizations to serve young people ages 8-18 living in challenging circumstances in Richmond, Virginia. They also operate an art center for teens, called Atlas, in Richmond’s Downtown Arts & Culture District. Through their programs, youth discover ways they can positively engage in and influence their surroundings. Professional artists and volunteers work with youth after school for 12-week sessions at the community-based programs and 6-week sessions at the Atlas-based programs. Each program grows from the needs and interests of the group of young people being served. The young artists are asked to explore crucial personal statements that reinforce their sense of identity and purpose, such as:

What is a hero?
What do I stand for?
How can I make my community a better place?

Programs culminate with some kind of public presentation of artwork. These have included city billboards, exhibits at art galleries, and a compilation CD of poetry. By merging the private creative experience with a public showcase, ART 180 offers youth a safe way to talk about what matters most to them, while offering the community a compelling way to hear it. In addition to the programs at Atlas, ART 180 staff and teen leadership council operate and manage a community gallery that showcases a rotating set of exhibitions targeting or about youth.

For Fall 2013, ART 180 will work with the following Richmond-based site partners on various creative projects with young people:

  • Communities In Schools / Elkhardt Middle School – video game design
  • Communities In Schools / Henderson Middle School – costume design and video
  • St. Andrews School – photography and writing
  • Charterhouse School – zines
  • Communities In School / Thompson Middle School – mixed media
  • Communities In School / Oak Grove Elementary
  • The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club – mixed media
  • Franklin Military Academy – hip hop performance
  • Communities In Schools / Redd Elementary School – sculpture
  • Communities In Schools / Wilder Middle School – mixed media

Online /
Facebook /
Twitter / @art180
Instagram / @art_180


Additional Information