What We Do
East Side Community Arts is dedicated to meeting the need for free summer activities in East San Jose.
East Side Community Arts works to inspire positive interactions and creative lifestyles among youth living in East San Jose through the visual and performing arts. By offering free art classes led by credentialed teachers and professional artists, East Side Community Arts allows youth the opportunity to create visual and performing arts while fostering confidence and community.
In 2011, Laura Peters, a Special Education teacher in East San Jose, noticed that there were very few free programs for middle and high school aged youth in East San Jose, especially programs incorporating the visual and performing arts. Laura, along with a group of teachers, artists, and supporters sought to accomplish such a program and thus created East Side Community Arts.
In July 2012, ESCA launched a pilot summer program. One free, 2-hour art class was offered each day for three weeks, hosted by the Mayfair Community Center. Students participated in classes ranging from Lyric Analysis to Origami, Theatre of the Oppressed to Afro-Hip Hop, and Visual Art with a focus on Latino/a History and Culture. Students created their own origami designs, community mural designs, and attempted to solve social and community problems through “forum theatre.”
In July 2013, ESCA scaled our program to serve over 90 students at an elementary school in Alum Rock Union School District. A separate program was created for elementary students, who received a variety of visual and performing arts classes. Middle school students were offered the chance to choose either a visual arts track, or performing arts track; art forms in which they specialized during the 4-week camp.
ESCA has continued to grow and develop over the past seven years. In 2016, ESCA opened a second programming site, at a school campus back in the Mayfair neighborhood. ESCA staff were ecstatic to return to the original neighborhood in which ESCA was conceived, and is poised to serve up to 250 students in the Summer of 2019 across both school sites.
For the past seven years, ESCA has provided free half-day art programming to hundreds of elementary and middle school students each summer in East San Jose.
We are fiscally sponsored by the Alliance for Youth Education, a 501c(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the educational experiences of Alum Rock students.