The month of October is a big month for DSTL Arts. It marks the beginning of our mission to “teach, inspire, and hire creative at-risk youth.” Of course, it wasn’t always that focused. As a matter of fact, we weren’t even called DSTL Arts when we first started our work pioneering our Arts Mentorship Program and our vision for the future of arts education programs for youth.
Three years ago, in October, 2012, DSTL Arts started as an idea: a passion project. As the founder, I knew that it was important to craft a program that would meet the needs of youth that aspire to be artists. As a kid that wanted the same for himself, I never had a mentor tell me it was possible. I never had encouragement from family that would empower me to pursue a career in the arts. I came about this career in a very roundabout way.
2012 was trying year for me. As a matter of fact, when I started DSTL Arts with Jen Fuentes, I was afraid that I had developed cancer. It was a scary time. After spending a couple of weeks in the hospital that very summer, I grew ever more determined to bring my dream to fruition. The original plan was to move to LA, earn a Master in the Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from CalArts, and then return to my hometown and establish a working gallery that would offer arts education programs for teens. It was my career-based background. I worked in nonprofits since 18 years old. It made sense to me that I would establish a nonprofit.
However, LA showed me that it would be the ideal place to establish my nonprofit. LA is the best place to be an artist. LA is the Best Place to Create. Or at least, it will be once DSTL Arts establishes a permanent home in partnership with Trade School LA and Emerging Arts Leaders/LA.
October, 2015, marks a great number of milestones for DSTL Arts. We have received our first grant from the California Arts Council to provide two, new, creative writing programs for youth and adults (Art Block and Conchas y Café). 2015 marks an expansion in enrollment for our Arts Mentorship Program. Where 3 years ago we started with only 3 students, we have worked with 15 total students, providing them mentorship and career guidance. October, 2015, also marks the establishing of our coalition of nonprofits: The Partnership for Los Angeles’ Creative Education.
As we head into the tail end of 2015, and the 3-year anniversary of our Arts Mentorship Program, we go forward strengthened by the fact that we have a strong, dedicated base of supporters in our families and friends. We go forward knowing that as the lead organization of The Partnership for Los Angeles’ Creative Education, we will truly create a community that will support the next generation of emerging artists, both young and young at heart. We thank you, #ArtsFam! Let’s continue to Develop Skills and Transcend Limits through the Arts together.
Luis Antonio Pichardo
Founder, Executive Director; DSTL Arts