Arts Unbound is a nonprofit organization founded in 2000 and incorporated in 2003 as a 501c3 nonprofit. Our mission is to provide arts education, skills building and a variety of vocational opportunities in the visual arts to youth and adults with mental, developmental and physical disabilities.
We strive to inspire students of all ages through classes in the visual arts, cultivating avenues of self expression, personal achievement and life enrichment that come with mastering art techniques. We also provide the professional training necessary for emerging artists to compete on the retail market and to share their creativity with the world as artists who happen to live with disabilities.
Arts Unbound Programs
Arts Unbound provides art instruction by professional artists in a variety of media, from painting to creating graphic novels. We recruit professional artist/teachers with highly specialized skills to work with students as instructors and mentors. Group classes and individual instruction, depending on need and interest, are available year round.
The Arts Unbound staff is experienced in arts marketing and artist coaching. Our staff assist emerging artists in achieving professional growth through vocational training, mentoring and exhibition/retail opportunities. Several Arts Unbound artists have gone on to receive national recognition through prominent New York galleries and museums like the Smithsonian Institution.
Arts Unbound provides additional vocational training in the arts industry by hiring interns and hourly workers in our offices and retail outlets. This gives individuals the opportunity to learn marketable skills in arts administration, web and social media technologies, art studio management and gallery/retail sales.
Arts Unbound paves the way for our emerging artists by providing exhibition and retail opportunities in our gallery, professional galleries throughout the state, craft shows, and various retail outlets. All proceeds are split between the artists and the agency.
The organization currently serves youth (age five and up), adults and senior citizens with mental illness, developmental and physical disabilities. Arts Unbound programs reach up to 200 individuals monthly in our studios or at various off-site locations in Essex, Union and Morris counties, including public and special schools, senior centers and agencies serving people with disabilities and at-risk youth. We have a robust senior program to provide art therapy, art instruction and retail opportunities through classes at senior centers. Our ultimate goal is to provide opportunities for interested people with disabilities statewide.
Impact on Artists
"We would like to keep Jimmy involved in these [Arts Unbound] classes if there is an opportunity. His artwork has become such an important part of his life and a real means for him to communicate in a way that he can truly express himself."
Diane Brazel, mother of Jimmy Brazel, student living on the autism spectrum, Bergen County, NJ, 2009
The board and staff of Arts Unbound are told repeatedly that the experience gained by students has often changed their lives and given them meaning through acquiring a set of creative skills never before recognized or pursued. Our students tell us they are inspired and motivated by the connections they are able to make with others because of their artwork. This is especially meaningful to a population often misunderstood, stigmatized and isolated because of their disabilities.
Agency personnel whose clients have participated in the Arts Unbound studio classes have indicated that participation in the arts has helped to promote wellness by improving emotional health, socialization, attention span and eye/hand coordination, among other outcomes.
Arts Unbound, located in Orange, NJ, has also entered into a partnership with Hands, Inc., and the Valley Arts District and is proud to anchor the district as one of the first tenants in the area. The Valley Arts District is designated as a cultural arts revitalization zone and anticipates growing into a vibrant arts community over the next several years.
Arts Unbound works closely with many local partners, including school districts, government agencies, religious and service organizations, and arts nonprofits in order to be a conduit of the arts for people with disabilities.