The Community Art Collaborative (CAC) was created in 2004. The program matches talented community artists with nonprofit organizations, schools, or community centers for a year-long residency. Since 2004, about 130 CAC members have worked with 40 different host sites. Their service expands the ability of their host sites to reach more Baltimore residents and engages thousands of neighbors in community art projects. In particular, CAC helps youth participants achieve in school by fostering creativity and critical thinking.
CAC continues to be driven by research that proves the positive correlation between arts-based learning and academic achievement. A study of 25,000 students showed that middle school and high school students who participate in in-school and out-of-school arts activities see significant increases in grades and test scores compared to their peers who do not. The same study found that students who participate in the arts are less likely to drop out of high school or watch more than 3 hours of television per day; they are more likely to define community service as important to them. Teachers indicate that students engaged in the arts surpass their peers in creativity, expression, and imagination. Other studies have found that arts-based learning enhances student achievement by promoting a sense of competency in reading and math.
CAC member artists have facilitated after-school and community art projects that include:
- Indoor and outdoor murals
- Youth-led video projects on topics like conservation, health, and education
- Neighborhood art festivals
- Community gardens
- Symposiums on social justice issues
- Youth-led performances
- Neighborhood oral history projects
- After-school programs in photography, painting, collage, clay, dance, and much more
CAC members are passionate about art, youth, and communities. They come from across the country and bring different experiences and strengths to the program. Some CAC members are concurrently enrolled in MICA's MFA in Community Arts (MFACA) program. Their service in CAC fulfills the degree program's residency requirement. MFACA students receive rigorous training through their coursework in social justice curriculum development, the community arts discipline, and other topics. All CAC members undergo additional training in community organizing, classroom management, and volunteer management.
Community Art Collaborative is an AmeriCorps program funded in part by a grant from the Maryland Governor's Office on Service and Volunteerism and the Corporation for National and Community Service.