The Future of POP
“Art has a role to play in addressing poverty, alienation and marginalization,” said Pastor Brian Hamilton. “For arts to be transformative, we have to get to the places where people don’t see themselves as being part of the arts.”
Navada Taylor of Will Rap 4 Food agreed. “Everyone on this panel knows that the arts community really sets the tone of what happens in society. If we intentionalize that, we can change society.”
Hardy provided the business case for the arts by detailing how arts centers have created jobs and led to economic development in communities like H Street and Columbia Heights.
The panel members were not alone in testifying to the healing power of art. James, a writer and vendor at the Street Sense table, described the arts as therapeutic. They relieve stress and helped him work through depression. “I could tune out the rest of the world and just concentrate on writing that poetry and creating that art.”
In his eyes, the art workshops Street Sense offers are essential. “For our vendors it really makes a difference in their lives. Dealing with homelessness and poverty, it really helps to give them somewhere to go and give them an outlet.”
So what’s next for Painting Out Poverty?
Sosa says POP will partner with local organizations on painting and writing workshops in schools to empower students to tell their stories. She envisions a journal of short stories and poems about poverty, hunger and homelessness to raise awareness of how these issues affect children.
Another project Sosa has in store is to enlist graffiti artists to create a mural as a joint effort with community members, who would not only help design the work, but would also participate in the painting process.
Tara Campbell is a DC-based writer of crossover science fiction. Formerly a painter, she’s now content to stand back and write about people who can really wield a brush.