The Community Art Corps (CAC) is a cadre of 13 full time AmeriCorps member artists that work with partner organizations to engage others in meaningful art experiences and promote community building initiatives in collaboration with community-based organizations, service providers, and civic and cultural institutions. CAC is sponsored by the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and works in conjunction with the College's Community Arts Partnerships Office (CAP) and the Master of Arts in Community Arts (MACA) program, which begins in the summer of 2005.
The Community Art Corps is a natural next step in the growth of MICA's Community Arts Partnership (CAP) program, which was established in 1998 as one of six select pilot sites funded nationally by the Wallace Foundation. Building on this success, MICA created a program that serves even more young people from across the City. The Community Art Corps builds on CAP’s success by placing artists in non-profit organizations. Artists commit to a year of service working mostly with children and youth who are living in poverty, in high-crime neighborhoods, and attending Baltimore City's most troubled public schools. The young people that Art Corps members reach through this program have the opportunity to participate in creating community-based arts activities that articulate the community's voice and serve as alternatives to high-risk behaviors.
The Community Art Corps is the only program of its kind in Maryland that links artists with youth, communities, and higher education. The Community Art Corps leverages the resources of the Maryland Institute College of Art to create new opportunities for artists to partner with communities using the visual arts as a catalyst in addressing a variety of social issues. Community Art Corps members are supported by MICA and work to develop sustained and ongoing youth and community development projects that benefit young people in under-resourced neighborhoods.
In June 2005, the Community Art Corps was awarded a highly competetive national AmeriCorps grant through the Corporation for National and Community Service to continue it’s work in Baltimore’s communities over the next three years. Starting in the fall of 2005, most CAC members will fulfill their AmeriCorps service year in conjunction with the residency component of the new Masters of Arts in Community Arts program at the Maryland Institute College of Art
The Community Art Corps’ mission is to empower Baltimore communities by crafting innovative working relationships uniting the arts and practicing artists with youth groups, community-based organizations, public agencies, and academic institutions.
CAC trains highly qualified artist citizens to implement arts-based activities in out-of-school programs; design and implement community strengthening projects via the arts; and increase the capacity of community organizations by building an active, growing network of volunteers.
The 2004-05 Americorps members who were part of the inaugural year of MICA’s Community Art Corps program worked in 13 organizations and 30 different locations in and around Baltimore city, and offered arts based activities and instruction to approximately 539 people; children, youth, adults and senior citizens. The members also engaged 121 volunteers to assist in the work they undertook in the community.
Our goal is to use art in the service of building community. To this end, members were a part of arts based projects that included approximately 1236 community members. These projects included facilitating the creation of community murals, quilts, mobiles and mosaics. Youth and community members also made comic books, masks, jewelry, kites, pottery, hand made paper, websites, animated films, and costumes. Their art work included themes of leadership, identity, cultural diversity, justice, community, home, family, health, and education. These art products were used as a focal point to organize family and holiday events, service projects, community gardens, performances, parades and city wide exhibitions that celebrated youths creative expression and contribution to community.
The Community Art Corps members who facilitated, organized, and assisted in these projects participated in a wide variety of training activities to encourage their growth as community artists and leaders. These included workshops by local community artists, leaders of non-profit organizations, faculty and staff at MICA, and national service leaders.
After the completion of the program 3 members will go on to join the Masters program in Community Arts at MICA, 1 will go on to graduate school for art education, 1 will go on to graduate school for fine arts, 1 was hired by her organization as a program coordinator, several are considering another year of AmeriCorps service, and several others will go on to work in various community organizations.