Theatre Of Hearts, Inc. was founded as a nonprofit corporation in 1987 to promote understanding between people through cultural and artistic forums and to empower local communities through education in the arts. In the wake of civil unrest in Los Angeles in 1992, Theatre Of Hearts initiated our Youth First Artist-In-Residence (AIR) Program. Our mission is to prevent and intervene in youth violence by involving underserved, at-risk youth, ages 4-18, in long-term high quality, multidisciplinary, standards-based arts educational workshops throughout Los Angeles County. The TOHYF Artist-In-Residence Program is established with the goal of activating the potential for profound transformation in the individuals we serve through the act of their creating art and thereby being empowered to make meaningful contributions to their community. Our overarching objective is to advance innovative standards based arts programming in visual and performing arts including writing that keeps pace with current trends in the educational systems we serve as well as providing these services in the midst of significant shifts in the demographics and cultural orientations in communities across Los Angeles County. We provide excellent custom-designed arts education at urban schools, probation camps, juvenile halls, low-income housing communities, and libraries. We have witnessed the power of Youth First Artist-in-Residence programs to transform lives and to strengthen communities with over 150,000 young people and their families served since 1992.
A professional artist-mentor is carefully selected to provide the participating group of 15-35 youth with hands-on arts instruction for the duration of the program. Sessions average at 2-4 hours, once or twice a week, during school or after school for 13-15 weeks for each discipline. TOHYF staff works closely with site administrators to custom design and select Visual and Performing Arts, (VAPA) Standard Based curriculum in (theatre, music, dance, visual arts and creative writing) that will address the specific needs of the youth being served. The TOHYF's entire curriculum is also designed to alien with the Common Core Standards.
TOHYF program activities are monitored with particular attention to art form techniques and vocabulary as well as academic learning outcomes. At the beginning of each artist residency, pre-tests are administered to students in order to gather a baseline assessment of foundation skills, vocabulary and terminology, as defined by the California Department of Education's VAPA Standards. The results are compared to post-tests collected at the residency's close. In every case, participants who engage in Youth First AIR programs achieve test scores that show significant gains in mastery of the subject matter over the course of the program.
Theatre Of Hearts/Youth First professional development offers a wide range of opportunities for teachers and administrators of all grade levels and subjects. Educators are engaged in art making as the means to develop innovative strategies to energize their approach to teaching and transform classroom dynamics. Each professional development event or series is custom designed to feature highly interactive sessions led by professional Artist Mentors. The result is an inspirational and fun way for the transfer of arts integration techniques and connecting language arts skills to one or more arts disciplines: creative writing, storytelling, or any of the visual and performing arts. The design of the training may support a Theatre Of Hearts/Youth First Artist-In-Residence project or act as a stand-alone resource for schools sites and districts. Focus areas include but are not limited to: Art-making, Cooperative Learning, Innovative Teaching Strategies, Lesson Planning and Unit Design, Community Involvement, Social and Emotional Learning, Special Populations, National Core Arts Standards, Arts as School Reform, and Multi-cultural Connections.