Matt and Caleb, celebrating Caleb's birthday in 2008

Matt and Caleb celebrating Caleb’s birthday in 2008


As many of you know, here at Upstream Arts, we’re celebrating our 10th Anniversary as a nonprofit working at the intersection of the arts, disability, and learning! In the 10 days leading up to Give to the Max Day on November 12, we’re sharing 10 fun facts about our work and our history – which double as 10 great reasons to Give to the Max, toward our big anniversary goal of $100,000 by June 30. Enjoy!

Fun Fact #1: Our Story is Personal

Upstream Arts was founded by parents of a child with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, a genetic disorder which impacts physical and cognitive development. Upstream Arts Artistic Director Matt Guidry tells the story like this:

I remember the moment I first recognized the empowerment that creativity in expression can offer. It was in a dance studio, where I was working with a company of dancers. My 5-year-old son, Caleb – who is non-verbal and had just learned to walk – watched us intently. He circled the room to observe us from different angles. Then he approached the mirror and began to mimic our movements. We responded with more movement, and it soon became a back-and-forth dialogue.

At that moment, a new possibility for communication opened up for him, and for me.


Matt and Caleb in the park

Matt and Caleb, exploring their new mode of communication


Twenty years later, Caleb’s confidence and creativity are infectious. His language of movement, of dance, may be abstract; but if you listen closely, it’s not hard to understand.

In 2006, Julie [Guidry, Executive Director] and I created Upstream Arts, because Caleb reminded us that the core of communication is give and take, listening and responding – and the arts provide a perfect arena for practicing these basic human interactions.


Caleb and Matt performing in The Art of Me, Midwest Special Services, 2015

Caleb and Matt with other Upstream Arts participants, performing in The Art of Me at Midwest Special Services, 2015



Move upstream with Upstream Arts by making a special 10th Anniversary gift on Give to the Max Day! We’re looking for commitments from 10 supporters every day between now and November 12, with the goal of having 100 Give to the Max supporters giving $10 or more and moving us closer to our $100,000 anniversary stretch goal. Can you be 1 of 10 today? It takes only a few minutes to schedule a gift right now at Thanks so much in advance for your belief and support!