Young Arts Arizona (Phoenix, AZ)

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Panoramic view of a colorful mural painting

A mural entitled Scattered Dreams was created as part of Young Arts Arizona's Mural Project in the Detention Centers, led by artist Robert Miley.
Photo courtesy of Young Arts Arizona

Young Arts Arizona (YA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the presentation of children's artwork, with an emphasis on at-risk youth. Since 1998, YA has worked with schools and agencies throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area to provide art as an antidote to a life full of challenges.

In FY 2005, YA received an NEA Challenge America grant of $10,000 to support a mural project led by artist Robert Miley with juvenile detainees at two local detention centers: Durango Facility in Phoenix, June 13-21, 2005, and Southeast Facility in Mesa, June 27 – July 6. Miley has been working with at-risk youth for a decade, helping them redirect the negative energy of violent behavior into constructive, creative energy.

Miley directed workshops on mural painting and using art as a balanced response to anger, fear, and stress.  Participants then painted four-panel murals at the two detention facilities. One mural hangs in the cafeteria at Durango, and the other was placed in the visiting room at Southeast.

Fifty-one juvenile detainees from the two facilities participated in the project, which may serve as a model for future programs. Besides the positive behavior changes in the participants, the program also demonstrated the possibilities that art can play in the participants' lives and appropriate uses of their creativity. Prior to the project, most of the participants had limited access to and experience in the arts due to economic and environmental restrictions.

(From the NEA 2005 Annual Report)