About The Program
Live Art is a performing arts program for students with and without disabilities. Each year, students hone artistic talents in a neurodiverse community while building friendships, skills, and an appreciation of each other’s strengths through experiential education in a variety of performing arts classes. Live Art is an expression of SPARC’s commitment to accessibility, creating a culture of artistic exploration rooted in compassion, acceptance, respect, and empathy.
Artwork by Abernathy Bland
All are welcome here.
Live Art is for young people ages 10-18.
Live Art classes are taught by teams of teaching artists—professionals in their artistic fields—and special educators. These teams work together to create accessible and challenging artistic lessons.
How to Get Involved
All young people involved in Live Art go through a brief interview with programmatic staff. Click the button below to complete the interview registration form. We will contact those who complete the form for a brief interview.
Live Art is SPARC’s inclusive performing arts program. Like all SPARC programs, it is made possible by donors like you. To donate and learn more click the button below.
In Live Art, we strive to create an environment in which each student’s artistic gifts are recognized and needs are met. We endeavor to celebrate the students for who they are, as they are, while being a safe harbor in which they can grow, collaborate, and create. We hope the students find in the arts the ground in which they cultivate a world accessible for all people in our community.
Live Art classes meet weekly for nine months. Most students participate in one class. Each class is a neurodiverse community led by teaching teams of teaching artists and special educators with the goal of transcending traditional educational silos. Building on skills and collaborating as artists, students and teaching teams showcase their work in a culminating performance.
Through exploration of artistic disciplines, Live Art stimulates social and emotional learning, fostering peer groups that accept each other exactly as they are. And through Live Art, young people thrive.
At their core, Live Art classes have the values of CARE: compassion, acceptance, respect, and empathy. Through the years, CARE has become the bridge between performing arts and real-world preparation for Live Art students. The students imbue CARE into their lives, extending beyond the Live Art classroom and into the wider Richmond community.
Live Art: Leadership
Live Art Leadership is a three-year class for graduates of the Live Art arts program; as adults, Live Art Leaders are learning to implement their Live Art lessons in everyday professional and personal circumstances. The primary focus of Live Art Leadership is learning to translate performance and artistic skills to professional theater skills, ranging from uplifting and supporting younger Live Art students to working in various roles available in a theater to serving in leadership capacities within the program.
Live Art’s Teaching Artist Training Program
SPARC’s Teaching Artist Training Program is a workforce training program for young adults with disabilities who have graduated from the
Live Art program and have participated in Live Art Leadership. Through experiential learning, mentorship, and responsive curriculum, participants will garner the practical tools and skills necessary for transitioning from being Live Art students to teaching artists within and beyond the Live Art program.
Words From The Community
“Miracles happen [at SPARC] every single day. We entered the Live Art program just hoping my daughter could make one significant connection, and we are so pleased the most significant connection she made was with herself! She has gained self-confidence and an appreciation for her abilities, which she has never had before. Every single class provides my daughter with opportunities to frame herself in ways the rest of the world refuses to allow.”
– Live Art parent
According to rigorous educational assessment reports by specialist Dr. Amy Corning:
“The CARE curriculum has now been implemented during three Live Art sessions. Eighty percent of parents reported noticing some effects of the curriculum their child’s behavior or conversation. Parents’ comments make clear that the CARE values and inclusive atmosphere of Live Art are a sustaining resource for their children. They also described – often with evident pride – students’ gains in ability to recognize situations when others might need acceptance, compassion, or empathy, and to take action by offering a kind word or gesture.
“When asked to report on the degree of influence Live Art had had on their child, a total of 88% thought that the program had had a ‘profound’ (64%) or ‘considerable’ (24%) influence. In addition, 94% saw evidence that Live Art had brought about a lasting difference in their child’s life outside the program. Most often cited were social-emotional gains, especially increased confidence, a sense of empowerment, dedication or willingness to persevere, and greater empathy. Parents also noted new career interests involving the arts, work with people with disabilities, or American Sign Language.”
Photos by Jim Hale (top) and Tom Topinka (bottom)
Thanks To Our Sponsors
Barbara B. & James E.
The CarMax Foundation
Ellen & Orran Brown
Ron & Benita Felmus
Queen of Virginia Skill &
Ann & Jerry Samford
William Talley, Bill Talley Ford
Troutman Sanders LLP
Patty & Fred Wood
Children’s Hospital of
Richmond at VCU
Find Your Light Foundation
Matching Gifts Program
Anne-Marie Irani and
Lane & Associates, P.C.
Kathy Mays Coleman
Holly Rice & Vince Gilligan
Joe & Suzanne Seipel
Lois Snitkoff & Hadar
Soundworks of Virginia, Inc.
Jill & Andy Stefanovich
Leanne Yanni & William
* of the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond