One America Community Efforts
Little Bar

Program: DreamYard Drama Project, New York, NY
Contact(s): Tim Lord, Director: (212) 828-9512
Purpose: To use the arts as a tool to build leadership, promote literacy and develop self-esteem

Background Program Operations Outcomes


DreamYard Drama Project, founded in 1992 by actors Tim Lord and Maria Bello and writer Jason Duchin, places professional artists in inner-city classrooms in New York City and Los Angeles to help children learn the skills to express, write, and perform their own stories. DreamYard artists--professionals from all racial/ethnic backgrounds--work closely with teachers in year-long residencies to ensure that thoughtful reflection and creativity are essential parts of the students' curriculum. The majority of the students who DreamYard works with are people of color: 60% black, 30% Hispanic American (or were born in Mexico, the Caribbean or Latin America) and 10% Asian American or Caucasian.

Program Operations

DreamYard brings writers, directors, dancers, painters and musicians into public schools on a sustained basis to work with the same class and school for at least one year. In 1998, 18 artists worked in New York City schools, and three participated in the Los Angeles program. These professionals work side by side with teachers to develop and institute a curriculum that teaches children to express, write and perform their own stories. Targeting districts with no arts programs, the DreamYard program is chosen by teachers who wish to bring an artist into their classroom during the school day to share their skills with students. Children learn how to create and perform their own original stories. In this process, students, teachers, and artists learn new ways of teaching and learning. DreamYard, through work in urban schools, juvenile-detention camps and an on-line creative writing journal coordinated by teenagers, teaches children creative ways to celebrate their cultural differences by bringing them together through art. Its children's theater festivals serve as an antidote to years of racial intolerance and misunderstanding by bringing children from different backgrounds to a common stage where they get an opportunity to hear each other's voices and work together.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

DreamYard has expanded its program into over 100 classrooms since its inauguration, working with thousands of students in schools, juvenile centers, and community centers each year. Teachers, students and artists reaffirm the power of learning by organizing a children's theater festival twice a year.

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