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Art Enables is a Washington, DC based non-profit that helps people with developmental disabilities make a living from their artistic expression.

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I come from an extremely artistic family. My Dad is an architect, my mom is a graphic designer, and my sister is a painter, yet I have almost no artistic ability. Still, I realize how important it is for every person to engage in some form of creative expression. For me it’s building websites and cooking, but for many people it’s some type of art. Art Enables is a Washington, DC based non-profit that has found that “often people with developmental disabilities are better able to express themselves in images than in words.” The organization fosters this creativity by providing a group of about thirty people (the program is open to those “18 and over from throughout the Washington metropolitan area who are diagnosed with developmental disabilities and who have the desire and the discipline to work at becoming professional visual artists”) with “the resources and supports they need to become visual artists.”

Be an Enabler

The best way to get a feel for the work that Art Enables does is to get to know their artists and the artwork that they produce. There is some really great stuff, and you can even buy it if you want. 60% of the earnings go back to the artists, while I’d imagine the rest goes towards keeping the program going. Beyond the organization’s main goal of helping people with developmental disabilities make a living from their art, Art Enables also works “to further in the arts market an appreciation of outsider and contemporary folk art” and “further an understanding and acceptance of the alternative, visual way in which many people who are marginalized for any number of reasons can communicate when they are given the chance.” It looks like a really cool organization, and if you want to join them, they’re looking for a Gallery & Outreach Program Assistant. It’s only a part-time position, but it’s a great way to get your foot in the door.

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