For Immediate Release

Friday, August 13, 2010

Twin Cities –Upstream Arts is proud to announce that they are one of eight Twin Cities arts organizations to be awarded the prestigious 2010 National Endowment for the Arts’ Learning In The Arts Grant Award. This generous support of $35,000 allows us to carry out residencies in 20 Minneapolis Public Schools Special Education classrooms in the 2010-2011 school year. The mission of Upstream Arts is to enhance the lives of adults and youth with disabilities by fostering creative communication and social independence through the power of arts education.

What sets Upstream Arts apart from other arts organizations is that we intentionally focus our work on the disability community. We do this because everyone deserves to have access to the joy and fulfillment of participating in the arts. And we do this because we believe that the arts are uniquely suited to act as a tool to teach and learn the complicated nuances of social and communication skills; and that artistic experiences nurture growth, leading to individuals who are better able to live, work and make positive contributions to our society.

In a city like Minneapolis, where art is embraced and encouraged, the small number of organizations that provide access to or participation in the arts for youth and adults with disabilities is astounding. This past fall, evaluation data gathered by Upstream Arts showed that previous to participating in our program, only 2% of the students we served had been exposed to theatre and 0% had been exposed to dance.

Recognition and support for the work that Upstream Arts is doing is growing exponentially. In fiscal year 2009-10, programming doubled from the previous year. With the Learning in the Arts Grant Award, the NEA joins a growing list of foundations and governmental organizations to support whose support will help fund over 60 multi-week arts residencies serving youth and adults with disabilities. These grants will also provide continuing part-time employment to approximately 15 professional artists from around the Twin Cities. The Minneapolis Foundation and General Mills have also joined the National Endowment for the Arts in supporting the work of Upstream Arts.

For more information go to:

Or call 612-331-4584

Organizational Info

The mission of Upstream Arts is to enhance the lives of adults and youth with disabilities by fostering creative communication and social independence through the power of arts education.

Upstream Arts was founded in 2006 by Julie and Matt Guidry who witnessed first hand the positive impact arts education had on their son. Caleb George-Guidry, Matt’s son and Julie’s stepson, was born with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS), which affects his physical and cognitive development. As a professional theatre artist and educator in the Twin Cities, Matt exposed Caleb to the theatre world at a young age. Caleb, who is non verbal, began to use the physical movements, body language and facial expressions he learned through theatre and dance to communicate and engage with those around him. As Matt and Julie watched Caleb find alternative forms of expression, they realized that all people with disabilities should have the same opportunity to nurture their social and communication skills using the arts. Out of this spirit and determination, Upstream Arts was born. Since then, Upstream Arts has grown exponentially, drawing on research and best practices to provide an arts based approach to addressing social skill deficits common to a variety of disabilities. We integrate individuals with cognitive, developmental, emotional, behavioral and physical disabilities—as well as those without disabilities– in multidisciplinary arts activities. Our programs are taught by teams of local professional artists—including actors, dancers, musicians, visual artists, writers and directors—that we train to teach to individuals of all abilities. We carry out art programs in K-12 schools, with Transition programs, Adult Day programs and with community organizations around the metro area. We also present at conferences and conduct trainings for school staff and local professionals on arts based programming and teaching methods that address individuals with disabilities.

The purpose of the NEA Learning In The Arts For Children And Youth grant is to advance arts education for children and youth in school-based or community-based settings, in a curriculum-based experience that occurs over an extended period. All projects must include the following components: 1) the opportunity for students and their teachers to experience exemplary works of art, in live form wherever possible; 2) study of the art experienced including the acquisition of skills for practicing the art form where appropriate; 3) the performance/making of art within the discipline(s) studied; and 4) assessment of student learning according to national or state arts education standards.