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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

The Arts of Life, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education

Mission: Arts of Life advances the creative arts community by providing artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities a collective space to expand their practice and strengthen their leadership.

Target demographics: Adult artists who have developmental and/ or intellectual disabilities.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 60 artists

Geographic areas served: Chicago-land

Programs: We support each other as professional artists in creating a thriving arts community based on cooperative decision-making and mutual respect. We are committed to providing high quality, innovative services for adults with developmental disabilities. The studio focuses on its artists’ needs and strives to exceed expectations. Our community thrives and depends on the unique skills and capabilities of everyone involved - our artists, staff, and volunteers.

Community Stories

24 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 Kj B.

Donor

Rating: 5

This community is so near and dear to my heart. Seeing the development of so many amazing artists is spellbounding. I've been involved with the studio since 2003. It's a long-standing creative space for the differently abled. I feel so honored to call these artists part of my greater arts community.

2 Leah S.2

Donor

Rating: 5

I cannot say enough good things about Arts of Life. It is a tremendous organization, one that has been transformational in the life of my cousin and many others. I’m so grateful for their amazing work.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

A family member chose to attend the Arts of Life North Shore Studio several years ago. Arts of Life has allowed his creative energy to find focus, purpose and success. He has exhibited and sold paintings, been involved in many artist-developed creative efforts including poetry, drama and music. The artists are supported and facilitated by the consistently fine staff and volunteers to let their talents rise and their voices be heard. I am always looking forward to the next event, exhibit, and opportunity created by and for the artists at Arts of Life.

2 Claudia A.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our son, Chris, had a traumatic brain injury 30 years ago and has spent many years in support group settings, clubhouses, and supported work settings. All of these options had trade-offs. He was a welder before his injury and never had any interest in painting until about a year ago when he began spending more and more time at home with art. We saw a newspaper article about the San Francisco Arts of Life studio and looked for one locally in Chicago. Arts of Life North Shore has been the answer to meaningful work for meaningful pay for Chris. He is not a Picasso, but is proud of his work and gains self-respect. The staff and volunteers are experts, caring, patient, accepting and provide on-going positive reinforcement for his efforts in a supportive environment. We couldn't ask for a better answer to our prayers!

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

Arts of Life is a wonderful place where artists with disabilities can create art and feel whole.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Arts of Life gives individuals with disabilities opportunities for self expression and recognition of their artistic abilities that are often not readily available to them. We are impressed by the studios’ dedication to sharing the work of these "unseen" artists with the wider community through public art projects, gallery showings, partnerships, and a strong social media presence. The Arts of Life stands apart from other organizations for people with disabilities because it is committed to enriching theirs lives by facilitating their art-making as well as making them known. The Arts of Life is a creative and inspiring community where our son flourishes both as an individual and an artist.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Arts of Life is an amazing place. It offers such a great opportunity for each individual to express themselves. And it works because of the people who work there. They care and really want to help each person to realize their ability to create. They are committed to helping each person learn to work together, help one another and support each other.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have worked at at Arts of Life North Shore as a painter-musician for over 5 years and it is still one of the greatest places on earth to work. We work independently of each other but as a community, too. We have many positive chances to make the studio what we want it to be, and make it better. It is a fun place with great music, poetry, drama, exhibits, art talks. You name it, we do it! Check out VanGoGo, our band, on iTunes!

3 Dave H.4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

What an amazing program and so well run. The artists in this program - each individuals with divergent abilities - accomplish things that no other program provides. It brings out skills and talent and intelligence overlooked by more traditional programs. The staff is devoted. And the environment accepting.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Our daughter, Becky, started attending Arts of Life in 2012. On our initial visit to Arts of Life in Glenview, we were thrilled with the commitment of the staff and their passion for guiding Arts of Life participants in the process of bringing their own concepts to each piece of their art. A treasured photo of Becky welcoming her first niece to our family was beautifully portrayed in her painting, capturing her pride in her new role as an Aunt. Becky not only enjoys the art projects. She has made many wonderful friends at the Arts of Life studio. Every participant has a vested interest in making the Arts of Life experience what they want it to be. The participants' input is respected, and considered as the staff plans future events and field trips. Becky truly feels she is an integral part of the Arts of Life community. She has blossomed artistically and socially. We are grateful we found the Arts of Life program and look forward to many, many years of fun and friendship at A of L! We are the proud parents of artist, Becky, and we happily support this wonderful organization. -- Rudy & Debbie

1

Donor

Rating: 5

This is an incredible community for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They are respectful of each person and of the group in community, making decisions together,sharing their lives, their art and music in a most creative way and apply skills to activities of daily living.
My son attends the program and has made great gains and eagerly looks forward to participating. He also plays in their band, Van Go Go and has made many friends and really feels a positive connection to the leaders who are fellow artists doing their work together and sharing their lives. As a parent I couldn't think of a better place for my son!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've volunteered for The Arts of Life for over 4 years and am so grateful I found it. The community is caring, respectful, vibrant, creative and open. I have never experienced anything like it. The artists have autonomy and are integrally involved in how their artistic practices are structured and the studio is run. I always leave with a smile on my face and a gratitude that I get to be a part of such an amazing place.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I never quite realized or appreciated that organizations like The Arts of Life existed to serve such a wonderful, talented, and (unfortunately) underserved population. After volunteering, I now know how important tAoL is, how committed and caring the staff is, and how the community it embodies is so instrumental in providing the artists an opportunity for personal expression, building self-assurance and developing mutual respect. It's a privilege to support their mission.

2 Jack L.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer once a week at Arts of Life . Great Art ! Affordable Prices ! Great talent !

1 Rita H.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've volunteered off and on at the Arts of Life for three years. I keep coming back because it is one of the most radically accepting and welcoming places I've ever been to. I love the amount of acceptance and independence given to the artists, really embracing people at all different levels and stages of life and helping them succeed in the way that's best for them. All the staff are truly caring and friendly.

Arts of Life is a unique and wonderful organization, and I can't recommend highly enough!

3 Chris V.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Arts of Life is an organization for artists with disabilities can make their own kind of art in a studio The studios are run by the community of artists. The staff are aides to the artists learning new skills for an example giving ideas how to do art talks. The studio have great artists with talents. The art of Life is a awesome place work as a disability artist.

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

My son began attending the Arts of Life five years ago and we continue to be impressed by and delighted with this organization. They have boundless creativity that shows itself in their daily activities, their outreach and their fundraising. The staff members are tremendous and, most importantly, they respect and build the dignity of their artists. Everything that happens here is about the artists and they are included from inception through execution.
I believe in the Arts of Life and last year I became Board President so that I could help continue and build the impact of this most excellent organization.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Nothing but great things to say. With a driven and passionate staff, Arts of Life continues to exceed my expectations. Experiences at the studio are intriguing, meaningful and impactful. Working with a variety of individuals with a variety of mediums is great for volunteers because everyone can find something they enjoy! Arts of Life also allows volunteers to take on more responsibility if they wish and hosts numerous events that are exciting and always for a great cause.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

years ago my wife and i stumbled into the Chili Cook-Off event to support our friends that had volunteered their recipe. we had minimal idea what the event entailed but figured a couple bucks for unlimited chili and a couple beers, why not!?

we absolutely fell in love with The Arts of Life that night! the camaraderie between the artists and volunteers and spectators and workers and family members and everyone else around blew us away. we knew then that it was something we wanted to get behind.

fast forward 5+ years and we've been to as many events as we can possibly make it to, my wife has joined the Executive Board, and we are in our 4th year of raising money through an event at the gym that we own.

The Arts of Life is a wonderful organization and means the world to a lot of people.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Arts of Life treats adults with disabilities with the respect they deserve, enhancing their self-worth and empowering their decision-making. All in a nurturing environment that inspires creativity and individual growth.