Expression, self-esteem supplied by art DREAMS 


Youth arts instruction, offered to ensure every child can discover an outlet for expression and engagement, will soon open to local adults interested in reaping the same benefits.

Free arts programs for at-risk youth at DREAMS of Wilmington often fosters a sense of accomplishment and confidence, preparing students to share their vision and contribute to the world, said associate director Emily Colin.

“Our ultimate mission is to build creative, committed citizens, kids and young adults who can go back into the world and feel good about themselves and give back,” Colin said.

The renovated arts center on Fanning Street, inhabited by DREAMS since January 2012, is vibrant and alive each afternoon after school, Colin said, but sits empty during the day, prompting the DREAMS staff to expand programming.

“It’s a new venture for us, and I think it will help us fulfill our vision of becoming a true community arts center and assuring this beautiful space is utilized all the time, not just when students are here,” Colin said.

Artists with all levels of experience are welcome in Loraine Scalamoni’s mixed media class, she said, even if past attempts have left them frustrated. The desire to create is the most important prerequisite, Scalamoni said, along with a flexible perspective.

“We all have a vision in our head, even myself, even professional artists, of what the finished product will look like. And a lot of times, people start to create something and it doesn’t match the vision in their head, so they get discouraged,” she said. “But the whole thing is about the process, more than the outcome.”

Like the benefits reaped by students involved in DREAMS, Scalamoni said the process of creation can instill enthusiasm and self-esteem in adults.

“You start to realize what it is you like to do, the types of things you want to create. It helps people’s confidence levels to see that you really are creating something wonderful. People are often surprised at how well they do, as opposed to what they’re not doing,” Scalamoni said.

While the classes are open for community enrollment, Colin said the adults art programs also extend the same opportunity for expression to the family of DREAMS students.

“Our kids are so talented, and a lot of their families — their parents, their grandparents, their aunts and uncles — are talented as well,” Colin said. “. . . We do engage families already, but we’d love to take it one step further and offer the same high-quality art classes that we’re offering to the students.”

DREAMS already offers free exposure to the arts for families of students, Colin said, during family arts nights and by sharing free tickets to see exhibits and performances across the community. But if the adult classes are successful, any money left over after paying instructors and covering overhead costs will be poured back into programming, including more opportunities for family involvement.

Registration fees are due March 20. For more information, call 910-772-1501 or visit


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