Founded on the principle that creativity is not limited by disability, Growth Thru Art in Billings is a multi-faceted arts program designed to serve adults with developmental disabilities. Eight studio sessions weekly serve the needs of nearly 60 adults in the development of their motor, social and communication skills. Participants in the program gain greater community acceptance through the exhibition and sale of their artwork.
They also participate in community festivals and events and, most importantly, they take pride in their own work. Artists enrolled in the program are a part of Billings’ mainstream art culture and community; their artwork is shown in galleries, restaurants and office buildings throughout town, in addition to being juried into regional art shows.
Family, students, community members and caregivers are actively enrolled into this process as volunteers, audience members and event participants
Growth Thru Art began in 1980 with 15 artists in Billings looking for a more dedicated way to express themselves creatively. It didn’t take long for the idea to gain steam throughout the community, and donations of supplies and financial support soon followed AWARE was presented with the opportunity to manage Growth Thru Art in December 2011, and the program moved to the Billings facility in March 2012.
Artists enrolled in the program are encouraged to pursue the medium they desire, whether it be paints, drawing, pottery, sculpture, weaving, poetry or even dance.
The art produced is theirs to sell from that point. The development of business opportunities for the artists and other AWARE clients is underway, fitting in closely with AWARE’s efforts to create as many meaningful job and career paths as possible for people with disabilities.
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