Amanda Gorman mesmerized our nation —article by Camila Sotela
100 Colorado Creatives are chosen by journalist and artist Susan Froyd for the Westword honor and published on their site (below). You can read the Executive Director of AfA’s thoughtful and often irreverant ideas on the state of the arts in Colorado and her personal motivations and inspiration for her work. Susan’s Facebook post is also linked below.
High heels and high spirits, open hearts and open bar tabs, tears and twerking, performance and passion. At the intersection of activism and celebration, where vulnerable expression and raunchy comedy are served up in spades, where dedicated warriors pour out their souls as they pour another cocktail—THIS is Running of the Gays.
The 9th Annual Running of the Gays once again put on this faux marathon in heels to highlight the brilliance of our youth. A silly event with the serious purpose of supporting empowerment workshops for queer youth.
Our 2018 event was both a familiar family reunion, and a leap forward for our organization. Our incredible youth poets captivated the audience with open, raw, and frequently hilarious expressions of their struggles and their victories. Other performers threw down sultry musical performances as the crowd cheered and tipped and begged for more. However they chose to express themselves, the showcase of talent from our youth performers was a powerful, tangible display of their hearts—and AfA’s work to facilitate their transformation.
Running of the Gays continues to gain visibility with local media, community, and supporters. Many new faces joined the team and gave their all to make this event happen. Running of the Gays was even featured on the FOX31 network! Our incredible network of staff, volunteers, and donors is stronger than ever. Planning for next year’s Running of the Gays is already underway! This is all made possible by your support for Art from Ashes. Thank you. We’ll see you at the 10th Annual Running of the Gays next year!
Thank you to our 2018 sponsors!
For some hilarious photos and videos of the event, check out our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/RunningOfTheGays/
Hopefully you can join us for the holiday party on the 4th (invitation below)!
Meanwhile, here’s what we have to share during this wonderful season of light:
(read the pdf of our 2018-Annual Request Letter or read text below)
My name is Kumi, and I am 18 years old. This holiday season, I’d like to share my story of transformation with you.
Before Art from Ashes, I was just an empty shell named Kumi, and I had a degree in making bad decisions. Now I’m getting a different kind of degree at CCD, thanks in large part to Art from Ashes!
I was full of creativity, hidden behind a door barred shut by my enemy Bipolar Disorder. I was frustrated, depressed, ecstatic, and powerless. Imagine trying to defeat a monster with only a bottle of pills, the wrong kind of friends, and bad love relationships. Doesn’t make much sense, right?
But then Art from Ashes came to our Creative Writing class at Endeavor Academy. I was so excited about how easy it was to let out my creativity in the form of poetry. I didn’t really ever do much poetry before, so it was new and interesting…and soon it became my favorite thing to do.
I finally had something new to fight my monster with and you better believe I felt empowered! I felt strong with my new weapon and confident in my new skills. I learned the power of my voice as I read my poetry to the people willing to listen, and I learned how to conquer my fears. And with Art from Ashes, I learned to help empower others, as well.
Art from Ashes was able to come to Endeavor Academy because of generous donations from community members just like you. I’d like to thank you for your support and ask that you please consider financially supporting Art from Ashes this holiday season so that more youth can experience empowerment and transformation through art and poetry.
—Kumi Avila, Youth Representative to the Art from Ashes Board of Directors
Here’s what your generous donation provides:
- At Art from Ashes, we believe in paying artists! Your donation of $50 provides an honorarium for a guest poet or artist to inspire and motivate the young people in our workshops.
- We spend more than $1000 a year providing an honorarium to youth who perform their poetry for the community! Any amount you designate can support that goal!
- We believe in healthy food and LOTS of water for youth. Your donation of $50 will provide enough food and water for one 2-hour workshop for up to 20 young people! How many workshops would you like to support?
- A monthly donation of $100 will provide writing and art materials for four of our weekly drop-in workshops, held every Wednesday (Phoenix Rising) and Thursday (Drawing on Air Creative Time).
- A one-time gift of $2000 will support a year’s worth of weekly workshops for a struggling youth.
- A one-time gift of $5000 will provide the cost of an 8-workshop program for 20 youth ($15/hr. per youth), which would include operating costs as well as program expenses.
- Of course, we would very much appreciate any amount you’re willing to donate!
Does your employer match your donation? Please let us know!
And we hope you’ll come to our Annual Celebration of Light Party on Colorado Gives Day, Dec 4th from 7 to 9 pm at Art from Ashes, 1310 west 10th ave, denver
We hope you enjoyed Kumi’s powerful story of transformation. Stories like Kumi’s, and the stories we’ve heard from countless other young people over the years, remind us why we exist and inspire us to continue this important work. Colorado Gives Day is Tuesday, December 4th—a day that allows our generous donors to contribute towards that beautiful goal. During that 24-hour period your donation counts more than any other time.
Speaking of years…on October 10, Art from Ashes celebrated its 15th anniversary! That’s 15 years of young people discovering their creative genius through our unique and innovative programs. At Art from Ashes, we believe that by discovering their creativity, young people are empowered through art and poetry to find their voice, change their stories, and transform their lives. And as numerous studies and our own surveys have shown, it works.
In 2018, Art from Ashes experienced a few transformations as well:
- AfA won the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Arts and Culture! This prestigious award is given to organizations that make significant and lasting contributions in the City and County of Denver. What a great way to celebrate our 15th anniversary!
- AfA merged with Violet Hive’s Art As Healing youth program, a nonprofit organization that shares our belief that art facilitates empowerment and healing. Founder of Violet Hive, Amy Leiter, joined the AfA staff; Bridget Hofstadter of Violet Hive is now our volunteer coordinator; and both are trained Phoenix Rising facilitators who have expanded our weekly Creative Time drop-in workshops!
- Our programs and the work we do with youth in the community were highlighted on CBS4 and Fox Network, helping to send our message of hope and transformation to thousands of people.
- AfA hosted and facilitated a workshop for the World Denver Iraqi Youth Delegation.
- AfA has now partnered with more than 180 organizations to serve nearly 13,000 young people!
In addition to our ongoing workshops in the community and weekly on-site workshops, young people have shared their stories and their voices at a number of events in 2018. Some of these events include monthly First Friday performances at AfA, the Mercury Café’s 30th Annual Poetry Rodeo, the Youth Voices in Recovery poetry performance, and AfA’s 9th Annual Running of the Gays. Additionally, two of our youth poets were featured at the 2018 Denver Women’s March, where they performed in front of thousands of people!
Seeing the magic happen in workshops and watching the transformation of both youth and community members during performances and art shows re-ignites our passion for the work we do and leaves us energized for a groundbreaking future:
- Next year Violet Hive artists and AfA staff will expand the Drawing on Air curriculum, which is built on the foundation of our award-winning Phoenix Rising program.
- Of our existing trained facilitators, two are professional dancers interested in expanding and facilitating our Wingspan program, which we hope to launch by the end of 2019.
Our programs are magical, but we can’t soar without you. We hope you will help us meet our goal to serve even more youth in 2019. Please consider making a holiday contribution to provide creative empowerment workshops to the young people in our community.
With gratitude and joy,
The Art from Ashes staff, board, facilitators, contractors and volunteers
Catherine O’Neill Thorn, Celeste Seiler, Bridget Hofstadter, Sarah Lanzarotta, Samantha Albala, Savannah Arterburn, Tiffany Bowden, Amy Leiter, Marie Verrett, Carolyn Klier, Lewis Lease, Jessica Jarrard, Susie Martin, Johnnie Thorn, Kumi Avila, plus 63 interns, volunteers, and guest poets/artists!
PS. For those of you who have been supporting, praying for, and thinking of Catherine as she has journeyed through this difficult past year, you can find her medical update on our website here: www.artfromashes.org/category/news
Art from Ashes youth and executive director were featured on CBS4’s This Morning Show on March 26, 2018
Join us every First Friday in the ArtsDistrict on Santa Fe for a youth performance at Denver Art Society at 734 Santa Fe Dr. at 7 pm.
Much more than a public performance, youth gather at Art from Ashes at 4.30 for a FREE one-hour Phoenix Rising writing workshop, followed at 5.30 by a FREE one-hour performance workshop.
AfA facilitators and local artists/performers guide the youth through poetry writing prompts and spoken word presentations to prepare them for public performance.
The second All Sacred Foundation fundraiser for Art from Ashes, Phoenix Multisport and Planned Pethood will be held this upcoming First Friday. Join us for some wicked cool tatts performed by some of the best tattoo artists in Denver and for some poetry performed by the youth poets of Art from Ashes!
Michael Keen hosts Powered By Art, a community outreach program of The Museum of Outdoor Arts. An aspect of this program is the podcast, which features new episodes with creative makers every week.
The Podcast is a 40-minute informal interview with Catherine O’Neill Thorn and Host Michael Keen. The goal of the interview is to explore the world through AfA’s eyes and tap into what inspires and motivates Catherine as a creator.
Powered By Art believes in the power of Art and Creativity to change the World…Inspiring us to greatness, defying our preconceptions and manifesting our dreams. We contribute to this by initiating conversations with inspiring, creative Makers.
Episodes are available through their website www.poweredbyart.org and iTunes.
Catherine and a youth poet will be featured on Colorado & Company, on Channel 9! Tune in for the youth performance!
Tune in to Channel 9 Colorado & Company on Dec 30th between 10 and 11 am and catch an interview with Art from Ashes Executive Director Catherine O’Neill Thorn and youth poet and board representative Khalid El-Shabazz!
Post-screening, there will be a TalkBack (Panel discussion) in the “TalkBack Cafe” just across the street from the Boulder Theater on the Pearl Street Mall. The TalkBack is open to anyone who wishes to find out more about the film and our work with youth, and will feature Jimmy Santiago Baca, Art from Ashes Executive Director Catherine O’Neill Thorn, and Art from Ashes youth poet Prinjastin Sykes.