Since 1991, Art Start’s Creative Collectives have facilitated creative arts workshops with thousands of NYC youth experiencing homelessness and navigating the juvenile justice system.


Through partnerships with numerous city and nonprofit social service agencies, Art Start conducts creative arts workshops up to five days a week with youth and families experiencing homelessness and navigating the juvenile justice system. From bucket drumming, painting a mural, writing and recording a song, choreographing a dance, drawing a self-portrait or planting a vegetable garden, Art Start recognizes the possible barriers keeping Art Start youth from seeking out extracurricular outlets for their creative energy. Art Start brings our youth a unique formula that’s fluid and adaptive, yet focused and consistent.  

Workshops are led by Art Start staff and a team of committed volunteer mentors who focus on building trusting relationships with youth. Art Start believes that each individual has an autonomous and creative spirit which is inherently healing and liberating. We strive to create a safe and creative space where youth voices are centered and where collaboration between youth participants and mentors is encouraged and celebrated.

In 2018, Art Start’s Creative Collectives took place inside of 10 partnering locations, bringing 435 creative workshops to over 500 youth.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.  Additional supporters include:

Frank and Ruth E Caruso Foundation


Art Start makes me feel happy and strong.
— Aveyier, 6-years old


  • Abyssinian House

  • BronxWorks

  • Bright Horizons

  • Covenant House

  • Homes for the Homeless

  • Inwood House

  • Nazareth Housing

  • NYC Department of Homeless Services

  • NYC Department of Youth & Community Development

  • Safe Horizons

  • Salvation Army

  • Sheltering Arms

  • Volunteers of America

  • Women in Need


    Through partnerships with New York City alternative sentencing programs,  Art Start provides music, visual, and performing arts programs to youth with open court cases. During this crucial window of time, participants are able to commit to goal-oriented creative projects, express themselves, hone in on their artistic interests, and re-direct their energy toward positive goals.  Art Start  believes that by honoring these young people and their voices, we discover the key to open greater opportunities with them.

ONE MIC is intended to awaken self-realization in teens that have been mandated to alternative to incarceration programs in NYC. The program uses Hip Hop pedagogy, an instructional method that utilizes hip hop culture to provide a bridge to concepts that promote critical understanding, via the Bruce Willis/Art Start Recording Studio. Through year-round, student-centered workshops, participants cultivate original works while learning to think critically about their roles in the world around them. Media production techniques, event coordination, social networking and leadership development are among the strengths they attain.

In 2018, Art Start’s Youth Offender Outreach Program operates inside of two alternative-to-incarceration programs, and three youth detention facilities in NYC.



  • Center for Community Alternatives


  • Passages AcademySheltering Arms

  • STRIVE International

  • The DOME Project

  • Union Settlement