2020 Year in Review
A REPORT TO OUR COMMUNITY — DECEMBER 2020
Arts on the Block, a nonprofit arts organization with a 17-year history, is the only hands-on public art apprenticeship program in the region offering youth and young adults the opportunity to learn about art, design, and business by engaging in real-world public art commissions. We recruit, train, place, and support youth and young adults with art and design aptitudes who might not ordinarily be introduced to career paths in the creative industries.
AOB apprentices join one of our existing studio crews led by master teaching artists and supported by a team of management professionals. AOB crew members work their way up through summer intensives and year-round projects to produce large-scale mosaic public art. Along the way, they receive customized professional skills training, connect with our creative network, and pursue individualized plans for success in creative careers.
SOCIAL INCLUSION SCALED BY STRATEGY
Studio Habit: Create
We launched a dual-language program designed to quickly make a positive and accessible virtual environment available to children and families facing socio-economic, language, and tech barriers and to begin AOB creative collaborations at an even earlier age.
Movimiento de las Artes Juveniles (YAM), programmed in English and Spanish was introduced with our partners at CASA de Maryland and an amazing team of faculty and researchers at University of Maryland-College Park. In this online studio, families create hands-on art projects while playing with technology and practicing scientific inquiry.
DISCONNECTION DETERRED BY DIRECT DIALOGUE
Block Talks & Online Galleries
Studio Habit: Observe & Listen
Block Talks and online galleries celebrate the creativity of our studio apprentices, crew, teaching artists, staff, board, and extended AOB family. This year, we used new online tools to connect, share, and navigate change together during an unprecedented time.
In partnership with Montgomery County’s Office of Human Rights, the Maryland Civil Rights Educational Freedom Experience virtual event explored images by photojournalist Christopher Barclay in conversation with Director, James L. Stowe.
CHALLENGING CONFUSION WITH COMMITMENT
Studio Habit: Succeed & Be Empowered
Led by a distinguished New Majority board, AOB has mapped out three special projects in Racial Equity, HR, and IT for next year. With accountable leadership, training resources, and data-driven strategy, young creatives will be better prepared to succeed in our transformed world.
AOB 2.0 is our strategic plan to leapfrog digital divides and upend inequities through creative engagement with young leaders and communities. We aim to expand our capacities as we move toward a more racially, socially, and economically inclusive society. (Salto by PYAO apprentice Karen, displayed during the Arts on the Virtual Block Online Gallery.)
OUTLOOK IS ONWARD AND OPTIMISTIC
Studio Habit: Envision & Plan
We are realizing our vision! 2021 brings the safe launch of our new studio and the space to welcome young creatives from across the region. We are excited to make our future in downtown Silver Spring!
900 Wayne Avenue is our new address and we are ready! AOB’s tech-forward and broadly accessible space will nurture teams trained to take on the next economy. (The Little Giant by AOB Studio Crew member Ruqayyah Aakil, displayed during the Arts on the Virtual Block Online Gallery.)
ENCOURAGEMENT & ENDURING ESTEEM
Studio Habit: Reflect
AOB was able to take bold action in 2020 because of the enduring leadership, guidance, and support of the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, the Maryland State Arts Council, and the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation.
Our online studio was developed with critical emergency support, technology, and equipment provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Maryland Department of Labor, the Maryland Department of Commerce, our friends at the Greater Washington Community Foundation, Philip L. Graham Foundation and Taking It Global, and everyone who gave through our Power2Give campaign.
We are especially grateful for the team members who serve through Americorps and VISTA programs at Project Change and the MOST Network. We benefited from expert business consulting and technical support through BoardLead, Catalogue for Philanthropy, Catchafire, COMPASS, and DataKind.
AOB’s apprenticeship model isn’t possible without clients who care about young creatives. We are so proud of the artwork produced this year and our partnerships with Chase, Landex, Lerner, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation, Residential Mortgage Center, Temple Emanuel, and the Wheaton Urban District.
The new Silver Spring Studio comes as the result of an extraordinary three-year collaboration between the Montgomery County Department of General Services, the Maryland Transportation Authority, and the United States Post Office. We thank Senator Chris Van Hollen, our District 20 Team, Montgomery County Council, Hickok Cole, GPI, Kay Management, Lerch, Early & Brewer, the Silver Spring Arts & Entertainment District, and VIKA Maryland for fast help, expert guidance, and lots of patience!
Most remarkable are the individuals who made a difference in quiet moments that mattered this year and who show up for us every day in every way. Thank you is just the beginning!
Connect with us in 2021! Become a mentor, attend a Block Talk, visit the online studios. We can’t wait to welcome you to new spaces, public events, and creative opportunities in the new year! (Thank You Card by PYAO apprentice Nani.)