What is OUR WHY?  

Find out what drives Perkins.

This is the question that Perkins’ staff has been carefully evaluating for the last five years.

  • Why do we do the work we do?
  • What is the “why” behind programs and projects?
  • Why does Perkins strive to provide exemplary arts programming?
  • Why do Perkins’ efforts amplify the voices of the communities we serve?
  • Why does Perkins focus on the diversity of programming, artists with whom we work, and opportunities for engagement?  

The answer: The Arts are essential to the well-being of our communities.

Mary Carty creates many of her signature baskets by weaving around an eye-catching centerpiece item.

In 2020, as Perkins evolved its mission, we carefully examined the purpose of arts education, arts engagement, and arts experiences. “Perkins enriches lives, inspires lifelong learning, and cultivates intercultural experiences through the Arts.” Listening to the communities of the region we’ve served for more than four decades, common needs and themes emerged, emphasizing the importance of establishing and maintaining connections and community. These insights influenced the creation of Perkins’ new logo, the development of strategic plans, and the evolution of our programming. What we recognized was that effective arts programs support the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of specific individuals, collectives of individuals, and the intersection of individuals within the community.

Those of us immersed in, studying, practicing, and working in this sphere have long understood the arts are a fundamental human necessity. In the past decade, the dedicated research efforts of neuroscientists, physicians, scientists, psychiatrists, and various practitioners have conclusively proven that the arts play a vital role in improving the mental and physical health of individuals and communities. Studies, like those conducted by The Mind + Arts Lab at Johns Hopkins University and supported by additional research at esteemed institutions such as the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Stanford University, and Rutgers University (Mason Gross and School of Public Health), have identified and proven the tangible and positive effects of arts exposure and engagement.

Engaging in the arts for just 20 minutes daily positively impacts physical and mental well-being. Stress hormone levels decrease, immune functions increase, and markers of mental and physical health improve. Arts practice can enhance cognitive and motor functions, increase neuroplasticity, release dopamine and norepinephrine, activate synapses, and ultimately improve cognition, promote acceptance, and encourage healing. The Arts actively reshape brain function and have the capacity to address multiple elements of mental and physical illness simultaneously, not just individual symptoms. 

Community Programs

The Arts have the power to change us, and to change our communities. The Arts create, and reinforce the benefit of trial and error, failure and resiliency, collaboration, and connection, and most importantly, the Arts support the development of community.  The Arts repair and restore us as individuals and as the collective of humans that coexist. The Arts restore and elevate our humanity and help us to identify those common threads that weave us all together.Arts creates culture. Culture creates community. Community creates humanity.” (Your Brain on Art, p.202). 

What significance does this hold for Perkins, and WHY does Perkins provide the following annually:

  • Delivering over 350 visual arts classes and workshops annually
  • Conducting more than 700 music lessons and recitals
  • Implementing over 12 in-school residency programs
  • Extending our impact throughout the eight counties of South Jersey
  • Showcasing over 18 exhibitions each year
  • Nurturing collaborations with more than 400 visual, performing, and folk artists
  • Hosting more than 30 free concerts and programs annually
  • Serving a diverse community of over 42,000 individuals (about twice the seating capacity of Madison Square Garden) each year
  • Award over 40 scholarships annually to both youth and adults, while also offering complimentary programming tailored for individuals with disabilities, veterans, and our aging communities

Because…Perkins is dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of communities through the Arts, recognizing the transformative power of artistic expression to enrich lives and build vibrant communities.

Simply said, YOU are our WHY. 

Perkins Programs thrive with the generous support of patrons like you.
Your contribution makes a significant impact.
Click here to make a difference today.

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