by Jessica Mele, Executive Director

“You don’t look that old!” On almost a daily basis, I introduce a new person to Performing Arts Workshop. I share our mission, and I tell them with a bright smile, “…and next year we’ll be fifty years old!”

Inevitably, they tell me that I couldn’t possibly be 49 (ha, ha!). In nonprofits, it’s common to say “us” and “we” when referring to our organizations. As nonprofit public servants, we put in the hours, blood, sweat, and tears; we feel the mission like it’s beating in our chest; we identify with an organization until it is a part of us.

And this summer, I’m cherishing every one of those 49 years. I’m looking back on a history of revolution, disruption, commitment, and fierce love of creativity, starting with one Gloria Unti and leading to twenty professional teaching artists in hundreds of classrooms today. We’ve come a long way, baby, and we’ve got big ambitions for the future.

What is the role of an artist in a school? In an organization? How do artists change the way we learn, think, and challenge ourselves and others? At 49, we’re asking more questions than ever, and using that inquiry to refine our programming to better serve the Bay Area’s youth. Yeah, we’re 49. And 50’s looking mighty good from here!

2963568240_c5f5f1cb81_zDancer and teacher Gloria Unti founded Performing Arts Workshop in 1965.