Founder and Artistic Director Bob Bates helps thousands of inner-city children discover their creative spirits, and the power of their imaginations by offering education in music, art and dancing.
How it Began: A Solo Artist with Vision Bob Bates says he was an artist "living like a hermit" and enjoyed painting whatever appealed to his creativity, until a quiet day in his studio changed his perspective. "I was thinking about my life, meditating, and I actually had a vision from God. A voice deep within me said 'Get an art space for children .'"
Eventually, Bob shared his idea with a wealthy developer named Irvin Jaeger who was also at a point in his life where he wanted to do something for children. The two men started Inner-City Arts to keep children off of the dangerous streets of inner-city Los Angeles.
Bob says, "We take the children as they are, where they are, and we encourage them to grow. For me, the mission is to help children develop their creative potential. Without creativity you become very cautious, very careful and very fearful of making any kind of changes in your life. They are learning to let their fears go and having the opportunity to take risks."
Nurturing the Potential in Every Child Inner-City Arts does not claim to be training budding artists. Instead, Bob says, "What's really going on is there's a whole lot of problem solving to help the children realize they can do anything they set their minds to do."
Children paint, play musical instruments and take ceramics. Bob says the children score higher in math, language and science because the skills they learn doing artistic projects make them better students. In music for example, the children learn to count and keep time, repeat ideas and work together.
Inner-City Arts also improves their emotional well-being. "It expands their awareness, their focus—they're concentrating. They have the ability to express their fears, doubts, joys and happiness," Bob says. "Once you open that door, I believe that door will never close again. It's like cracking the door open to a great treasure room. That's their creativity."