2014 – Thanks to ABCTV-News, Disney, Marvel & First Books, Create Now held a Book Fair at a park near our office and distributed thousands of new books to hundreds of families in our downtown neighborhood. We successfully launched three of our Create A Mural Now Workshops at low-performing schools in Hollywood and Pacoima through Youth Policy Institute’s “L.A. Promise Neighborhood” initiative. Volunteers from FoxGives at Fox Studios helped troubled youth at Vista Del Mar design a new mural and their own “zines.” We hosted 2 groups of international visitors from the Middle East, including hip-hop artists from Egypt and Tunisia through the U.S. State Department. A variety of short workshops in creative writing, jewelry making, creating media content, illusion/magic and arts and crafts took place for dozens of foster and homeless youth. Dance and Screenwriting Workshops, as well as Introduction to Art took place, along with a Singing Workshop that culminated with three of the teens from LA Family Housing performing at our October 15th fundraising event “A Night of Great Sax” with saxophonists Dave Koz and Michael Lington, hosted by comedian Debra Wilson. Grad students at Art Center College of Design taught foster youth how to create rubber-band Formula-E cars out of recycled, and our Create A City Now Workshop took place at Westside Children’s Center. We were exited to launch a Digital Media Lab with Hope Street Family Center in collaboration with Vortex Dome LA and C3: The Center for Conscious Creativity. Students at the Linden School enjoyed our Guitar Workshop, while child prostitutes at Children of the Night love our Theatre Workshop.
2013 – Create Now built a professional recording studio, including a recording booth, thanks to a grant from the Moe Life Foundation. We served 1,584 youth this year. More importantly, our staff worked diligently to expand the quality and length of our arts education programs. We now offer comprehensive 12-session workshops in Music Recording, Guitar, Video Production, Screenwriting and performance arts. Not only did the length and quality of our programs expand, we have also built in job and career training. Staff and volunteers on our Program Committee are helping Create Now to improve the evaluation of our programs. We collaborated with the Sony Pictures – Emerging Professionals group of volunteers to provide youth at Vista Del Mar with two unique Create A Mural Now workshops. In addition, we were excited to partner with the Kaiser Permanente’s “mPower” theatre program to offer our newest program: Create A City Now, which middle-school students in Watts and North Hollywood absolutely loved. When Kelly Noonan’s VISTA term ended, we hired her part-time as our Development Assistant. Cirque du Soleil donated 800 tickets to their show, “Iris” at the Kodak Theatre, and a total of 1,259 enjoyed these cultural outings, along with visits to Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl and the Geffen Playhouse, amongst other premiere venues.
2012 – Create Now promoted Ruby Medina to full-time Director of Programs and Operations, and we hired part-time Program Assistant Mohammad Sharifi. Also, Kelly Noonan joined us as our AmeriCorps VISTA Development Assistant and Laura Kelly returned to take over as our AmeriCorps VISTA Program Assistant. We launched a new initiative: CAP (Community Arts Projects), to cap violence in schools, parks and other public venues in tense communities. We quadrupled the number of youth reached through our arts mentoring programs. We hosted classes in singing, dance and theatre for children in SPA 5 that culminated in a Talent Show with 18 young performers at the Westside Pavilion mall in West Los Angeles. Thanks to a grant from USA for Africa, we initiated Arts xChange, which brought together 16 Rwandan youth with 16 students in Compton through our Introduction to Art workshop. We reached 3,529 youth this year, for a total of 31,938 since our inception.
2011 – We settled into our new spacious office downtown. 25 children participated in “The Transformers Talent Show,” at the LAFH shelter, which was attended by Dame Barbara Hay, the British Consulate General, and diplomats from the International Visitors Council (IVCLA). They awarded Create Now with their prestigious “2011 Community Resource Award.” We were featured in O Magazine in the December issue (and also April 2012). Camille Brown became our AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer Coordinator. We reached 3,389 youth this year, for a total of 28,409 since our inception. We strengthened our organization’s infrastructure and developed our comprehensive Salesforce database (donated).
2010 – Founder and Executive Director Jill Gurr was selected by the British Council and VSO to participate in a Global Xchange that brought together 26 community leaders from six countries (France, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, UK and US) to share best practices. She spent six weeks in Durban, South Africa and Belfast, Northern Ireland. SAMHSA selected us to attend a summit in Washington, DC. where LA CHAMPS (L.A. Community Health And Moving People to Success) was developed as a coalition that SAMHSA supports. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas hired us to provide our Create A Mural Now workshop at Lennox Park. Laura Kelly joined us as our AmeriCorps VISTA Development Assistant and Emily Schuck as our AmeriCorps VISTA Program Assistant. We implemented several Graphic & Web Design workshops at Phoenix House and served 3,638 vulnerable youth in one year. A total of 25,020 youth have been reached since our inception.
2009 – Initiated a Peace Mural at MacLay Middle School in Pacoima with support from City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. Our Create A Mural Now workshops were selected to be in the L.A. County “Arts for All” directory. Our Introduction to Art workshops taught drawing, painting and sculpture to 45 teenage girls incarcerated at Camp Scott. A formal evaluation by the Department of Probation showed that 71% of our students had higher self-esteem. We served a total of 3,228 youth this year and reached over 20,000 high-risk and at-risk youth since our inception.
2008 – Launched a Peace Mural and an International Cultural Festival for children from the troubled Harbor Gateway community, attended by 500 community members at the 186th Elementary School in Gardena. Media coverage from ABC-TV and Fox-11 news. Ruby Barajas-Medina was hired part-time to run our Artistic Journeys cultural excursions program. Reached a new high of bringing our services to 5,623 youth, for a total reach of 18,089 since our inception.
2007 – Featured on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°. We increased our network of youth facilities served and our donors and partners also expanded to include the Music Center, Pasadena Playhouse, Royce Hall, Long Beach Performing Arts Center and more. Cirque du Soleil brought 400 youth to their show “Corteo.” Our arts workshops continued and services expanded to include notices sent out regularly to youth agencies in our network about jobs, scholarships, free computers and other resources and opportunities for the kids. “LA Street Scenes 2″ was presented at the Edgemar Center for the Arts in Venice, along with an auction, as a fundraising benefit. We reached almost 4,000 youth, the most ever served in one year. We have served over 12,000 youth since our inception.
2006 – We received a grant to hire Director of Development Robin Garfield. The organization collaborated with Yahoo! to bring 200 homeless youth to the Hollywood Bowl, and with STAPLES to enable six groups of youth to participate in our Create A Mural Now workshops for LA Live. The “L.A. Street Scenes 1” play featured work by youth and raised funds. Artistic Journeys included 600 tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s “Delirium” and 100 to see “Quidam” and expanded to the Ford Amphitheatre, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Hollywood Bowl and the Norton Simon Museum. We reached 2,714 additional youth.
2005 – Founder Jill Gurr was featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and The Hollywood Reporter published an article on us. Cirque du Soleil gave tickets for over 1,000 troubled youth from San Bernardino and Orange Counties to see “Varekai.” Our fundraising benefit with top comedians at The Improv in Hollywood raised essential money. We reached 1,700 more youth through our various arts workshops in music, writing, theatre, etc.
2004 – The organization expanded to include Ventura and Kern Counties. One student, Tasha Caulfield, graduated from USC Film School. Cirque du Soleil donated 800 tickets for “Varekai” to troubled youth in Orange County. We served 1,146 kids this year. Since our inception, we have impacted over 4,000 needy youth through creative arts programming.
2003 – We expanded to Orange, San Bernadino and Riverside Counties to be able to match more mentors with youth in their communities. We sponsored a Christmas Art Contest at Children’s Institute. Cirque du Soleil donated 900 tickets to troubled youth in Los Angeles for “Varekai.” Our tremendous growth brought arts services to 1,410 youth for the year, totaling 2,930 kids reached since our inception.
2002 – Back Stage West highlighted our organization for volunteer opportunities. Mark Schulman began presenting his motivational drumming seminars with his mentee Michael Monroe (a.k.a “KL”) at detention facilities. We brought our services to 1,520 youth in total.
2001- California Lawyer featured our student Darontay McClendon in an article. Darontay debuted in the movie “Gang Tapes” and was nominated for a Cable ACE award as Best-Supporting Actor. Two of our participants got to attend the popular E3 Expo at the Convention Center.
2000 – Began a partnership with the ShowBiz Expo, where our youth found opportunities for internships and jobs in the entertainment industry. Daily Variety featured us and the Los Angeles Times published an extensive article on the organization in the Westside Weekly. section. We brought our programs to 445 youth this year, and served a total of 1,122 youth since our inception.
1999 – We sponsored an art, music and poetry Talent Contest for 220 incarcerated boys. The organization was featured in the Malibu Surf Side News. We coordinated a TV Sit-Com Workshop that culminated in a visit for 15 kids from Mid-Valley Youth Center to a taping of “That 70’s Show,” where they met the producers and stars. The Geffen Playhouse began a long alliance of donating tickets to their performances. We grew to serve 604 high-risk youth.
1998 – Organization changed its name to Create Now to include more comprehensive arts programming – adding music, art and cultural excursions, bringing multiple art disciplines to youth. Initiated several successful programs in Orlando, which lasted until 2002. We served 50 youth.
1997 – We initiated a number of creative writing mentoring programs at Central Juvenile Hall and Mid-Valley Youth Center. We served 15 youth.
1996 – Leslie Stevens from the American Film Institute gave a $5,000 donation to start Write Now! as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. We officially served 8 youth. One of those relationships became lifelong after the mentor and youth bonded.
1995 – Jill initiated a second workshop at Pride House, a coed detention facility in Van Nuys and found similar results in improving literacy and inspiring youth to change their lives.
1994 – Jill Gurr initiated a Screenwriting Workshop at Optimist Youth Homes for 30 teenage boys. She saw that kids who were previously illiterate had learned to read and write through her program. Others were inspired to finish school and apply to college. One gang leader had loyalty tattoos removed from his neck and hand.