Kids acting stock photo

Breaking Down Financial Barriers to Accessing the Arts

Amanda* grew up in a home where arts were a priority. So when she and her husband David* began raising their own children, they wanted them to have similar experiences.

“Art is a gateway into understanding yourself as a human being,” Amanda said. “Being creative and artistic opens up a whole new world. …When you’re doing something creative you feel good about yourself because you’re tapped into your creativity and you’re being positive with your life. Art just brings joy into your life.”

But four years ago, Amanda and Dave couldn’t afford it. They were struggling financially after Amanda suffered an injury and was unable to work. That loss of income meant extracurricular arts activities for their oldest daughter Maria* wasn’t a possibility.

It was especially difficult for Maria who wanted to enroll in theater classes.

It’s a financial barrier that far too many families face on Cape Cod where high costs of living and lack of housing pose significant challenges to accessing the arts. Understanding these difficulties, the Arts Foundation launched AFCC Access in 2018 to assist parents like Amanda and David and to support students like Maria.

In 2019, the couple applied to AFCC Access with the hopes their daughter could enroll in Cape Cod Theatre Company’s Creative Movement workshop. “It was a very easy process and went very smoothly,” Amanda said.

These types of requests are what AFCC Access was intended to fund, allowing Maria to attend a month-long class at the Harwich nonprofit.

“We were thrilled the Arts Foundation gave her such a great opportunity to get involved in theater,” her mother said. “She gained lots of confidence and there was lots of fun movement and dancing. Right now, she has her own video camera and makes videos at home.”

Now in third grade, Maria is a confident speaker. She likes to write stories. And she enjoys performing.

While it’s too early to tell whether Maria has a future in the theater, her mother says she is itching to take another acting class. For kids, these types of classes “deepen their imagination for them to explore,” Amanda said. “The arts opens so many doors for them.”

These are doors that should be open for all children, regardless of income. Thanks to AFCC Access, they are.

Learn more about AFCC Access here. Started in 2018, the program provides funding for underserved children to participate in extracurricular workshops; funds transportation costs for schools in Barnstable County to send students on cultural field trips; and provides direct funding through grants for arts projects which expose children to the beauty and power of the arts.

*The names in this story have been changed to protect their identity.