Local artist Robert Miley proves that art has the power to create meaningful change through his artistic non-profit organization that encourages at-risk youth to channel their energy toward creative expression instead of crime.
In this local Arizona feature of the art series “ArtBeat Nation,” viewers will discover how Miley fused his passion for art and activism to start the Release the Fear organization to inspire young people to pursue their passions instead of giving in to dangerous temptations.
Founded in 1996, the organization offers workshops that focus on creative expression to help troubled youth change the way they view the world and help turn their pain into possibilities and productive futures.
Miley drew his initial inspiration for the Release the Fear organization from his sculpture of the same title, which was fabricated entirely from melted down weapons used in violent crime to symbolize how negatives can be transformed into positives by simply changing perspectives.
The sculpture, which took nearly a decade to create, was unveiled on the corner of Central Avenue and Roosevelt Street in the downtown Phoenix arts district nearly a decade ago.
Today, Miley’s nonprofit health and human-services organization emphasizes character education to help Arizona’s youth stay on paths toward success. The Release the Fear organization offers students tools to battle the effects of gang involvement, peer pressure, abuse, bullying and violence.
Release the Fear’s goal is to inspire and empower youth to maximize their opportunities and make the most of their lives through experiential programs that are designed to reduce fear, increase confidence and build self-esteem.
“It’s incredible to see how art can be used to inspire activism and incite change,” said Jennifer Burke, “ArtBeat Nation” producer at Arizona PBS. “Miley used the message of his artwork to create a meaningful organization that is committed to helping young people alter their outlook on life in a positive way. It’s wonderful to see how art can be used to improve peoples’ lives.”
Since implementing their program within the Arizona Juvenile Detention system, they have tracked a reduction in recidivism among the participants in the group as high as 50 percent for those who attended the workshop more than once, and a reduction of nearly one-third even among those who attended only once.
“ArtBeat Nation” is a weekly arts series highlighting the rich tapestry of arts stories from across the country, featuring artists, writers, composers and performers setting the pulse of the arts in America now. It airs Sundays at 5 p.m. on Arizona PBS. Past episodes are available for online viewing along with additional information at www.azpbs.org/artbeat.
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