Since 1991, we have led the effort in bringing creative arts to thousands of NYC youth experiencing homelessness.


Through partnerships with numerous city-run and non-profit shelters, Art Start conducts creative arts workshops five days a week with homeless youth ages 5-21. From bucket drumming, building a 20- foot Chinese dragon, writing a song, choreographing a dance, painting a self-portrait or playing in a band, Art Start recognizes the obstacles keeping these youth from seeking out extracurricular outlets for their creative energy.  Art Start brings our youth a unique formula that’s fluid and adaptive, yet focused and consistent.

Workshops are led by Art Start staff and a team of committed volunteers who focus on building trusting relationships with the youth.  Art Start creates a safe and creative space inside the workshops while connecting them to new experiences outside the shelter.

In 2016, Art Start’s Homeless Youth Outreach Program operates inside of eight partnering NYC shelters. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.  Additional supporters include:

Frank and Ruth E Caruso Foundation


Art Start makes me feel happy and strong.
— Aveyier, 6-years old


  • Abyssinian House

  • BronxWorks

  • Bright Horizons

  • Covenant House

  • Homes for the Homeless

  • Inwood House

  • Nazareth Housing

  • NYC Department of Homeless Services

  • NYC Department of Youth & Community Development

  • Safe Horizons

  • Salvation Army

  • Sheltering Arms

  • Volunteers of America

  • Women in Need


    Through partnerships with New York City alternative sentencing programs,  Art Start provides music, visual, and performing arts programs to youth with open court cases. During this crucial window of time, participants are able to commit to goal-oriented creative projects, express themselves, hone in on their artistic interests, and re-direct their energy toward positive goals.  Art Start  believes that by honoring these young people and their voices, we discover the key to open greater opportunities with them.

ONE MIC is intended to awaken self-realization in teens that have been mandated to alternative to incarceration programs in NYC. The program uses Hip Hop pedagogy, an instructional method that utilizes hip hop culture to provide a bridge to concepts that promote critical understanding, via the Bruce Willis/Art Start Recording Studio. Through year-round, student-centered workshops, participants cultivate original works while learning to think critically about their roles in the world around them. Media production techniques, event coordination, social networking and leadership development are among the strengths they attain.

In 2018, Art Start’s Youth Offender Outreach Program operates inside of two alternative-to-incarceration programs, and three youth detention facilities in NYC.



  • Center for Community Alternatives


  • Passages AcademySheltering Arms

  • STRIVE International

  • The DOME Project

  • Union Settlement