A Conversation with Randi Alper Pupkin, Director, Art with a Heart

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Courtesy Citybizlist– Approximately fourteen years ago, Randi Pupkin gave up her career as an active and successful litigation attorney to found and work full time for Art with a Heart. Today, the not-for-profit organization with a stated mission of “enhancing the lives of people in need through visual art,” is responsible for programing more than 7,100 separate art classes on an annual basis and has countless stories of “steering lives on the proper path” through building strong and life-long relationships with its students.

Q. What is the mission of Art with a Heart?
A.
To enhance the lives of people in need through visual art. We provide Baltimore’s underserved children, youth and adults with access to positive and productive programming, caring and nurturing adults on a consistent basis and the chance to embrace new ideas and skills in a safe and structured environment.

We currently teach more than 7,100 art classes annually to students attending schools, people in senior centers and hospitals and individuals living in group homes, shelters and community centers. In addition, Art with a Heart functions as the primary art teacher in many schools throughout the Baltimore region. We currently have more than fifty teachers and assistants with more than thirty separate sites. And, we have fourteen people on our Board of Directors.

Q. From where do you currently get your funding?
A.
Our budget is approximately $800,000 annually. Approximately half of this amount is earned from the numerous classes, with the rest generated from foundation and corporate grants, individual donations, charitable campaigns, and various special events.

Q. Art with a Heart has grown considerably since you founded it. What other things are you doing besides arts classes?
A.
You can easily think of Art with a Heart as a big tree with many branches. One of the branches represents our Summer Job Program that is operated at three separate sites, and presents fantastic opportunities for youth to gain practical work experience. Then, there is our service learning/social enterprise initiative, HeARTwares. HeARTwares is a retail store where we sell artwork and merchandise created by our students and volunteers, with most of the creations made from recycled materials. Fifty percent of the sale proceeds from HeARTwares goes directly back to Art with a Heart’s community partner.

Q. What are some of things that you are most proud of?
A.
That we have truly made a profound and significant difference in the lives of many people by using art as a vehicle. We regularly help homeless people, foster children and others with no direction in their lives. We have countless examples of people that have successfully turned their lives around after forming a relationship with Art with a Heart.

Q. What keeps you motivated after all these years?
A.
Every day, it seems, someone throws me a bone. I experience a situation that clarifies and crystalizes the reasons why Art with a Heart exists. It can come in the form of an e-mail, a phone call or a slight smile on one of our students. Hugs are best, though.

Read the rest at Citybizlist…



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