Using the arts as a bridge, we connect youth and artists with resources
to reach their full potential.
We envision a world where youth and artists have no boundaries to
Creative expression - We are an inspiring and uncensored space that ignites artistic
exploration and self-awareness.
Collaboration - We push boundaries and create partnerships to amplify our impact.
Inclusivity - We celebrate and value diverse perspectives and believe in equity for
Community - We foster provocative conversations and action on social issues that
are important to our community.
Since 2002, PlatteForum has been partnering under resourced youth with professional and emerging artists in intensive and long-term creative learning environments. Youth participants in PlatteForum's ArtLab are offered stipends for participation, access to a safe environment where they can explore social issues in their lives, take risks, receive critical feedback about their work, gain knowledge from and collaborate with professional artists and peers, learn to work as part of a team, and develop personal, academic, and life skills that stay with them forever.
In turn, youth participants feel empowered to develop their creative voice and become civically engaged in their communities. PlatteForum's ArtLab Interns also have greater opportunities to graduate high school and attain post-secondary degrees or certificates.
PlatteForum offers in-depth, curriculum-based arts education experiences which meet state educational standards. Programs are provided over an extended period of time to allow for longer-term relationships between youth, staff, mentors and professional artists. Using art as a platform, PlatteForum programming allows youth and artists to find their voices on issues that matter most to their generation and communities.
On average, PlatteForum serves over 4,000 youth from historically marginalized communities, their households and the general public each year. The life experiences of the youth we serve include parental abuse/neglect, family member substance abuse, social issues with peers, transient living situations, involvement with the juvenile justice system, generational poverty, being in the foster-care system, attending a low-performing school, and unstable school attendance.
Co-founders Judy Anderson and Mark Smith (East West Partners) started PlatteForum in 2002 as a way to address diminishing access to the arts in public schools and provide a place for artists to have the time and support to create new work. Believing that the arts are a means to develop a vibrant community of healthy, compassionate, and innovative people, these two visionaries created a place where under resourced youth could
interact with professional artists participating in one of the first community engaged urban artist-in-residence programs in the United States.
In 2015, PlatteForum moved into The Temple building in Denver's Five Points neighborhood to better reach and stay relevant to our target population and to contribute to this flourishing arts district. The Temple is perfectly situated as a resource for arts access in a traditionally under-served neighborhood. Owner Adam Gordon has effectively rehabilitated the historic and dynamic space, revitalizing it for the benefit of the community and maintaining its affordability for working artists, creative businesses, and non-profits. As the anchor agency at The Temple, PlatteForum offers a dynamic space for artist communities in Denver and far beyond.
"The ArtLab environment is so focused on youth voice…I love the people and getting to learn so many things from one another and all the artists."
- Leilani, 2018 ArtLab graduate (now attending Maryland Institute College of Art)
"You have to keep your grades up to be in PlatteForum and I like to keep my grades up so I can be part of this ArtLab team. We don't have anything arts related at my school and so PlatteForum is the perfect space for me to express my art even without having art resources at my school"
- Destany, ArtLab Class of 2020
"I don't know any other place like ArtLab -it is a group that is very aware of what is going on in the world and creates art about those issues." - Rogelio, 2018 ArtLab graduate (now attending University of Colorado Denver)
"Working with the ArtLab youth was a strong emotional experience that left a mark. I was in awe every Saturday during our meetings. These children were communicating openly about important stuff that happened in their lives, in their growth and way of thinking. They helped to guide the ways in which we worked together and in the end, made the experience richer." - Paloma Ayala, Resident Artist, Winter 2020