For the past two years, we have been working with MINDPOP on an initiative to expand affordable creative space within underutilized schools in the Austin Independent School District, The result of that collaboration is Village of the Arts, a new program that provides local artists and arts organizations with studio space at select public schools in exchange for their service to students and families.

Comprised of four annex classrooms on the Cunningham Elementary campus, the Village of the Arts hosts five artists in residence who pursue their own artistic endeavors while providing unique arts-learning opportunities for area students and their families.

Local arts organizations Bibliographia, Teatro Vivo, Theatre Heroes, Paramount Story Wranglers, and Pollyanna Theatre Company have been selected for the program’s inaugural year:

  • Bibliographia is an Austin-based creative team that offers murals, screen printing, sign painting, clothing and workshops. 
  • Teatro Vivo is an arts organization committed to developing a new theatrical aesthetic that is based on and draws from the culture, history, and folklore of the Latino experience.
  • Theatre Heroes create high quality touring performances for young audiences and those young at heart.
  • Paramount Story Wranglers support students of all ages and backgrounds create inventive and hilarious stories with stimulating experiences in the arts.
  • Pollyanna Theatre Company commissions and produces original theatre for young audiences that speaks to the needs, dreams, and imaginations of young people.



In a nutshell, please explain what the Village of the Arts program is and how it came to fruition.

The idea for the Village of the Arts was born out of the conversations that we are having daily with teachers, campus and district leaders, arts partners and the community. The City of Austin’s Cultural Arts Division was having a simultaneous conversation about the lack of affordable creative space. We both knew that affordable office and rehearsal space for artists is in short supply, and also that certain AISD campuses have spaces that are currently underutilized, and we decided to try an innovative pilot solution.

The Village of the Arts was one of those eureka moments where an idea arose that addressed several of those issues at once. Through Village of the Arts, students get more access to artists during their school day, artists gain access to affordable workspace, and communities benefit from living in an arts-rich environment. It is truly an example of collective impact when community needs are addressed by like-minded partners and shared resources.

What is the primary goal of the program?

The goals of the Village of the Arts are increased arts opportunities for students and their families, increased quality and depth of partnerships with professional artists, increased community engagement with schools as a community center, and increased access to the arts in the program neighborhoods. .

Cunningham Elementary has been chosen as the first school for the program. What can their students/teachers/parents expect to see this year as the program as implemented?

The artists in residence at the Village are so excited to offer learning opportunities for students not just at Cunningham, but other schools in the Crockett Vertical Team as well. There will field trips to a variety of theatre productions, access to amazing in-school arts programs and a host of new creative learning opportunities that artists will create in partnership with teachers. Additionally, every artist at the Village is committed to being available to teachers for on-the-fly arts-integration opportunities. 

How does this tie in to MINDPOP’s larger goals and mission?

MINDPOP's mission is to expand access to the arts and creative learning for all young people. Our work has shown us, time and again, that to really move the needle for kids, you have to work at all levels of the system. We could not be more thrilled to be a part of a program that provides creative learning opportunities for kids, while also supporting the needs of artists, AISD and the City of Austin!