ASAP, the After School Arts Program, affirms young people as persons of value, nurtures their skill and talent in the arts, helps them realize their artistic gifts, and broadens their awareness of varieties of artistic expression.
Begun in the fall of 2007 as an outreach ministry of St. John’s Lutheran Church in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, ASAP offers quality after-school enrichment programming in visual, musical/performing, literary, dramatic, culinary and other applied arts for select 1st through 8th graders attending Des Moines Public Schools. ASAP works to ensure that its students’ arts education is both deeply and broadly enriched through their participation in the program.
In 2009, Arts for the City, Inc., was created as an independent 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization to administer ASAP, its flagship program. Donations to ASAP are fully tax-deductible.
A Real Solution to a Real Need
Many young people in our community are underserved by the arts education offered in school. Yet for many reasons—transportation, cost, awareness, familial support, etc.—these students do not have access to the excellent arts programming offered by other area arts organizations. These kids need opportunities to develop their artistic talents and avenues to exercise self-expression.
ASAP, the After School Arts Program, works to connect these students with challenging, enriching arts experiences in a structured, supportive environment.
The After School Component
Parents praise ASAP for being a quality program they could never otherwise afford and for keeping kids safe in the crucial, often unsupervised, after-school hours. Teachers praise ASAP for broadening their students’ experience with the arts in ways they cannot do in the classroom. They note an increase in students’ self-esteem as well as more motivation to learn through arts education. Children are positively changed—becoming more expressive, more patient, more polite, more outgoing, more confident, more happy—because of their involvement with ASAP and their exposure to the arts.
ASAP’s learning goals are based on national arts curriculum standards, and address arts learning as well as social-emotional development. Opening activities are designed to help students transition from the school day, strengthen social and communication skills, and prepare for focused, creative studio work. Students are assigned to one studio each session, and they showcase the work they have created in an exhibition or performance at a culminating event. Presentation skills are an important part of a young artist’s development, and this event builds a strong sense of community while celebrating the creativity of our young people. For many families, these events constitute their primary access to the arts in Greater Des Moines—ASAP seizes these opportunities to educate and enlighten, as well as entertain, the audience.
ASAP Summer Arts Camp
In addition to the after-school component, ASAP offers summer programming at multiple locations of summer school, and at the annual ASAP Summer Arts Camp in Evelyn K. Davis Park in the Mid City area of Des Moines, open to all interested neighborhood children free of charge.