AS220 Youth Studios
AS220, the parent organization of AS220 Youth, is a 25-year old non-profit 501(c)3) organization located in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. It functions as an epicenter for the arts in the city, offering artists a variety of opportunities including affordable live/work space, galleries,a performance space, a “green” print shop, and community dark rooms.
In 1998, AS220 wanted to incorporate more young people into its community. Reaching out the to Rhode Island Training School (RITS), the state’s juvenile detention facility, AS220 began to provide arts programming to incarcerated young men and women.
By 2000, the energy and momentum around AS220’s arts education program at the RITS had grown to such an extent that a physical space apart from the RITS was needed. A large industrial space was rented on Providence’s
Southside, and the Broad Street Studio was born. After being released from the Training School, youth came to the Studio to continue the creative work and personal relationships that started inside. Additional art and
music classes were introduced at the new site, and staff and youth joined forces to build a recording studio. Alliances were formed with juvenile probation, group homes, and foster care agencies so we could stay connected with youth after release from the RITS, as they returned to the community.
In 2004, AS220 secured funding from DCYF to establish our own mentoring program that links incarcerated youth with mentors from the community. We began with 10 mentor-mentee matches in 2006; today, we have 20 youth
participating in individual mentoring and an additional 40 involved in group mentoring. Group activities include basketball, a running team, a girls’ group and parenting workshops.
In 2005, AS220 acquired a second large building in downtown Providence and developed it as housing, administrative offices and facilities for artists. For financial reasons, the Studio moved from the Southside of
Providence into AS220’s original building on Empire Street.
Although it was difficult to leave a community that felt like home, the move to Empire Street has had many positive outcomes. A broader range of services can be offered to Youth members downtown, and young people are
exposed to the positive, creative energy of AS220 as a whole. Transportation is easier for youth who come by bus. Further, many AS220 staff take youth on as interns and apprentices. After the move, the name was changed from Broad Street Studio to AS220 Youth.
In 2009, we also created a media and technology training program called the Fabratory. The curriculum for the Fabratory has been designed with middle school and special education students in mind. The program leads to
IC3 certification, an internationally recognized computer certification.
In 2009, AS220 Youth obtained a second federal grant to establish a formal partnership with the Urban Collaborative Accelerated Program, or UCAP UCAP is a middle school for youth who have been retained at least one
academic year. At UCAP, students are paced to complete the three years of middle school in two, so they can enter high school at or close to the appropriate age/grade.
Currently, the Studio serves about 330 youth at our three sites annually. Nearly half of all RITS residents opt to participate in our groups, and last year, more than 60 made the transition from the RITS to our downtown
Studio after release.
We consider AS220 Youth’s greatest successes to be the personal ones: building healthy, long-term relationships with the State’s most disconnected and disadvantaged youth. However, there is much public
evidence of the program’s achievements. For example:
– AS220 Youth has continuously offered arts programming at the RITS for
the last 12 years, making it the longest-standing arts program in a
juvenile detention facility in the United States.
– Creative Writing classes at the RITS and the Studio generated content
for two books, Impact and Impact II.
– The AS220 Youth Product Design Team created and sold a line of t-shirts,
hoodies, postcards, and multiples.
– The Broad Street Arkestra was formed. This was a musical collective made
up of youth and professional musicians creating and performing original
music that drew from diverse genres.
– The Studio’s hiphop group, the Rhode Show, has toured across the nation,
earning income from shows and producing two full-length CD’s
– The Rhode Island Department of Health hired the Studio to create a
youth-oriented anti-tobacco campaign. This included print ads, bus ads, TV
commercials, flyers, and t-shirts.
– AS220 Youth have painted large-scale murals in the city of Providence.
– Sisters, a social action group made up of young women produced a
documentary video titled “75 cents on the dollar” that addresses gender
inequities in the workplace.
Today, the staff is made up of artists from the community and VISTA’s, many of whom came up through the program. We offer workshops and intensives in the following areas: music, dance, creative writing, visuals
arts, 2D and 3D design, and photography.
For more info on AS220 Youth or its history, contact email@example.com