Behind the doors of this little blue house, lives are changed. Poverty & The Arts is a Nashville non-profit working with the homeless community to encourage creativity. Art and merchandise created by homeless individuals is sold, creating proceeds which go toward furthering the lives of these hardworking men and women.
After connecting with a homeless community back home in Kentucky, Nicole realized how creative the homeless community is. She noticed they use their resources in unique ways. Nicole brought her passion for connecting with the homeless to Nashville, when she started at Belmont in 2010. As a student worker, she planned community service events for the student body. She wanted to get Belmont students connected with the homeless population. After reaching out to Room In The Inn, they collaborated and planned an event. Belmont students came to Room In The Inn’s art studio to create art with people from the homeless community. The event was a success. By creating art this gave homeless individuals an outlet, allowing them to create something of their own.
As Nicole came closer to graduating, she wanted to turn her passion into a business. After a long journey, Poverty & The Arts became a 501(c)(3) in 2014. Poverty & The Arts is more than just an art studio. They are helping these artists learn entrepreneurial and business skills. For example, the artists at the studio are able to connect with customers, share their story, and increase sales. Artists receive 60% of the sale from original art and 25% from prints and merchandise. Poverty & The Arts offers installment plans, helps individuals open up checking accounts, and educates their artists on saving money.
After starting Poverty & The Arts seven out of the ten artists, at the time, were able to transition into housing. The environment created at the studio give artists a “can do” attitude. The artists have encouragement and a safe haven, which they might not have on the streets.
Poverty & The Arts currently works with eleven artists who are homeless or were previously homeless. I got to meet one of the amazing artists, Beth. Beth is a survivor of sexual abuse and has a performing arts background. Beth struggled with anxiety of how people saw her, but through Poverty & The Arts Beth was able find freedom and rediscover her love for the arts. She now pursues her passion by painting, illustrating, writing, and more. Beth just recently started a business class to further her education. The encouragement and support from Poverty & The Arts has positively impacted Beth’s life and the lives of so many others.
The art in the Poverty & Arts Studio is incredible! You can see the unique backgrounds of these individuals coming out in their art. I find it amazing that most of the artists have no formal training in art, but are just passionate about creativity. I encourage you to check out and support Poverty & The Arts as they continue to grow. They have an abundance of events including art shows, helping with the community garden, and more. If you are not local, you can shop online.