Olympia committee seeks to launch arts program for those transitioning out of homelessness


A City of Olympia committee hopes to partner with Drexel House to seek an Artist in Residence, who would lead a program which aims to increase access to the arts for underserved communities.

Arts Program manager Stephanie Johnson was at the Community Livability and Public Safety Committee meeting yesterday. She spoke about the first-ever arts program specifically for people transitioning out of homelessness.

"It has been on the work plan for quite a while," Johnson said of the project. She added the program was inspired by the Arts Crossing project, where they worked with the community and got their input on what it would be.

In preparing for the program, Johnson said they conducted surveys in Pear Blossom Place, Plum Street Village, Interfaith Works, Community Youth Services, and Drexel House.

"Drexel House came in with the most robust response – 29. It allowed us to work with staff members to put together project descriptions in the call for [an] Artist in Residence," she said.

Johnson claimed a significant interest in dance and music at Drexel House.

To narrow it down to the concept of finding an artist, she said they would be looking for an instructor who can teach drumming.

"The larger goal is to establish a drumming circle or drumming community at Drexel House. Sometimes people can get kind of insular and [could] use music to build community," she added.

Johnson said the Artist in Residence program hopes to address the goals:

  • Provide opportunities for underserved community members to participate in the art making process
  • Broaden the community experience of the arts
  • To create connection with the city of Olympia and the greater community
  • Enhance the quality of peoples' lives
  • Offer a variety of unique opportunities for the city's diverse communities to participate and benefit from the art-making process

Johnson said the pilot project, once it is done, is a subject for review by the Arts Commission and possibly consider making it available to other communities.

The committee members approved the draft for the Artist in Residence program recommendation and forwarded it to the city council for consideration.

The draft stated the program's goals. It also announces seeking the services of a teaching artist with experience in percussion and movement.


4 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • JulesJames

    The Art of bricklaying. The art of post hole digging. The art of concrete screeing. The art of janitorial services. Or the fine art of using taxpayer money to form drum circles for drug addicts? The Arts Commission is embarrassing itself.

    Friday, July 29 Report this

  • Miller19

    I second JulesJames.

    Saturday, July 30 Report this

  • Cobbnaustic

    I 3rd that.

    Sunday, July 31 Report this

  • Tikishark

    How out of touch with reality do you need to be before you offer drumming circles as an aid to homelessness? I agree with JulesJames. Social, life, and job skills would be more appropriate and have a greater impact than learning to bang on a few pots and pans and singing kumbaya.

    Tuesday, August 9 Report this