ArtsUP! LA provides programs and services that empower under-served individuals from low-income populations through the transformative power of the arts. Our key demographics that we serve are: at-risk youth; people with disabilities; and military veterans.

By partnering with local service agencies and schools, we too have become a community service organization. We provide opportunities for participants with limited accessibility to the arts to safely explore the endless possibilities of creative expression while promoting social skills, independence and confidence that can translate into an increased quality of life.

Many of the people in the communities we serve are homeless, unemployed and disabled. We address these needs by providing our services free of charge and offering stipends for performances, meals, and transportation to and from rehearsals. Workshops, rehearsals and performances offer participants the ability to practice public speaking through line recitation and escape from their challenges using their imaginations when stepping into a role. We provide a vehicle designed to empower individuals to find their voice, develop life skills, and exceed the expectations and common misconceptions about their capabilities.

Below are examples of how we are transforming lives through our programs.


The Need:
Only 4% of elementary schools offer theatre. Disadvantaged youth often feel disconnected from their communities and don’t have the pathways they need in order to be successful in school, career, and life. (Source: Americans for the Arts. 2013. Facts & Figures. Washington, DC.)

Our Impact:
Our youth programs are targeted to at-risk students, either via in-school residencies with Creative Youth Theatre or via afterschool music lessons with Outreach Through the Arts. Our programs are designed to improve student success, both academically and personally.

The Need:
Vision impairment has been identified as 1 of the 4 most significant contributors to lost independence. (Source: Alliance for Aging Research. Independence for Older Americans: An Investment for Our Nation’s Future. Washington, DC: Alliance for Aging Research; 1999)

Blindness follows only cancer and AIDS as the biggest health fear by the public. (Source: American Foundation for the Blind. Quick Facts and Figures on Blindness and Low Vision. 2003)

Our Impact:
Theatre by the Blind is the only theatre troupe in the country with an entirely blind cast performing original works. Our participants are not only blind but many also suffer from other ailments and challenges causing them to feel shy, awkward, and further isolated from the world. Theatre by the Blind gives participants a forum in which they can safely explore space to gain mobility and independence.

The Need:
Veterans are twice as likely as other Americans to become chronically homeless; Homelessness among veterans is often due to limited education and lack of transferable skills from military to civilian life and due to combat-related physical and/or mental health issues and disabilities. (Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.)

Our Impact:
Veterans Empowerment Theatre features a variety of performing arts workshops and opportunities that give our nation’s brave service members a safe environment to voice their own heroic stories, personal tragedies, triumphs, and experiences through theatre.


People served each year


Audience members inspired each year


Average number of productions each year


Artists placed in Los Angeles schools


Performing with a group, stepping into a new character, bravely telling your story to a new audience…these actions allow CRE Outreach’s participants to rewrite their life narratives, imagine new possibilities for themselves, and use creative expression to transform their lives.


Creative Youth Theatre provides my English learning students with an opportunity to accelerate their English language development through an engaging medium. Through the creation of original plays and performances, students employed important 21st Century skills, thus extending their learning way beyond the classroom.

Rafael Alvarez
Principal, Los Angeles Elementary School

I saw my first play put on by this wonderful organization last night, November 15th. I knew some of the actors that were involved in the play. Everyone did an outstanding job. I can’t recommend this play enough. I wish I could go back and see it again. The play was audio described, and the audience was into all of the action provided by this marvelous cast. All of you did a wonderful job. I can’t wait to the next event.

Theatre by the Blind Audience Member

I have no doubt in my mind that the show in October will touch hearts and change lives forever. Once the people take their seats for the show, I have great faith that they will see just exactly what we’re truly made of. We may have to do things differently in daily life, but we still manage to thrive in the world. We break the barriers around us, look the world in the face and show them that living life without our sight is possible.

Matthew Saracho
Theatre by the Blind actor

CRE Outreach provides a truly unique atmosphere based on non-competiveness and collaboration, where authenticity rules the day and there is no “right” way to act- there’s only the discovery of your own authentic voice as a creative person, respect for other people’s creative choices, and the joy that come from true process and collaboration.

Parent of Creative Youth Theatre participant

Changing Perceptions has changed my life in so many ways.  It has given me confidence and has empowered me to see my disability as a strength, rather than a weakness.

Theatre by the Blind actor

In Theatre by the Blind, each script offers a chance to escape and transform into a range of characters. Offstage, (the actors) each have their own real-life dramas of how glaucoma, detached retinas or gunshots robbed their sight — at birth, as teenagers, and as adults.

Esmerelda Bermudez
LA Times

I am a father of four beautiful children and I served in Bosnia Herzegovina with the US Army. Before New Directions, I was homeless and addicted to Meth. Now I attend college and am on the road to independent living! This play has been a forum for my original music and has helped me confront my past.

Michael Delacruz
VET participant

I rarely see a performance that makes me tear up, not the kind of tears from sadness, the kind that come from sheer joy. The endearing stage production of Yesterday’s with its all blind cast did just that.

Rosé Desena
The Los Angeles Post

Every now and again an inspired piece arrives in the theatre which gives its audience relatable and very real insight about life as we know it, or answers questions about what we don’t. It’s not that there is a higher wisdom or hidden Yoda-like message imparted in this presentation. Rather, there is a certain empathy, understanding and assent that is lent to the audience, the players and the subjects involved.

Tracey Paleo
Audience Member

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