Our Story

ArtistYear – an organization born out of the traditions of service, dedication to artistic excellence and expression, and respect, obligation, and empathy towards our fellow citizenry – is the first national AmeriCorps program for artists to dedicate a year of service to our nation.

ArtistYear believes arts education is a fundamental right of all children, regardless of economic status, and is committed to the development of critical thinking, self-discipline, and civic engagement through the arts, as a key to an engaged citizenry and thriving society.

Our History

Believing in educational equity, the value of the arts and the importance of service, Margo Drakos and Elizabeth Warshawer created a National Service Arts Corps model that would develop, support, and place AmeriCorps Fellows – recent higher-education, arts graduates with experience across various artistic disciplines – as full-time teaching artists at Title I schools for a year of service. Each Fellow is paired with a partner-teacher to deliver 1,700 hours of arts education to students who would otherwise not have arts education. Dubbed ArtistYear and launched as a pilot programmatic initiative as a shared-delivery partner with the School District of Philadelphia, ArtistYear was certified in 2016 as a 501c3. It was recognized as the first AmeriCorps national and state program dedicated to service through the arts in summer 2017.

Launched as a pilot program in 2016, as a shared-delivery partner with the School District of Philadelphia, ArtistYear works in both rural and urban settings across four states: The Borough of Queens, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Denver, CO; and rural North Carolina (Lee and Moore Counties), rural Colorado (Roaring Fork Valley). ArtistYear’s reach has expanded from having vetted, trained and placed three Fellows in its initial Philadelphia-based pilot program to recruiting, engaging and placing 104 Fellows nationally this 2021-22 school year – 304 Fellows since its founding.

ArtistYear Fellows served 302 K-12 students in the organization’s inaugural year and are on target to teach well over 26,000 non-duplicated students in school year 2021-202, partnering with a total of 81 schools and providing upwards of 176,800 hours of service.

ArtistYear provides exceptional higher-education arts graduates with an opportunity to use their art to make a difference in the lives of children, schools, and communities, while offering professional development that prepares them to be competitive for jobs and engaged citizen-artists following their service year.

ArtistYear Founders Elizabeth & Margo