Everyone deserves the opportunity and resources to express themselves through art, no matter their life’s circumstances. Poverty and the Arts (POVA) works to create that opportunity and to offer the necessary resources to people who would not otherwise have them because they’ve been impacted by homelessness. POVA provides the tools, materials and space that people need to create their art and works with them to sell their artwork, which creates income and financial mobility for them.

Nicole Minyard officially founded POVA in 2014, just after graduating from Belmont University, and within a year, they had 10 artists and a studio and gallery. Just a few years later, they outgrew their space with 16 artists and found a new and more accessible studio and gallery in East Nashville. Since its humble beginnings, POVA has served more than 100 artists and paid out almost $50,000 to the artists themselves. Now, you can find POVA artists’ works all around town — most of which are for sale — in galleries and businesses, such as Center 615, The Good Cup, The Belcourt Theatre, the Woolworth Window Gallery Exhibition and even the East Nashville offices of Village Real Estate, among others. And every year, the annual Gold Key Gala celebrates the artists and offers a great opportunity to purchase artwork and meet the people who create it.

POVA has a number of programs that encourage interaction with the community and other organizations. The nonprofit’s flagship program is the Artist Collective Program, which provides the artists with everything they need to create and sell their artwork. There’s also the Shared Walls Art Program (SWAP), which gives the same piece of art to a sponsor and someone who is in a low-income or affordable housing situation. This helps give income, confidence and exposure to the artists.

POVA’s soon-coming outreach program, the Community Arts Program, will take the nonprofit out into the community to offer pop-up events and “foster a sense of belonging and inclusion in the community through creating art.” And through the Teaching Artist Program, companies can hire a POVA artist to lead them and their employees through a virtual or in-person workshop.

The benefits of Poverty and the Arts are immeasurable. As one POVA artist, Thaddaeus Tekell explains, “When someone bought my art at the gala, I felt encouraged and validated. The artwork I do is a part of me, and when you value me enough to pay for something I made, that’s a different kind of validation.”

How You Can Help

There are lots of ways to support POVA and its artists, including making a direct financial donation, but the very best way is to purchase artwork. The POVA website has an online shop with artwork from each of the artists. Purchasing artwork you love helps the artists on a financial and an emotional level.

There are always opportunities to volunteer in a lot of capacities: teaching workshops, participating in or hosting shows, spreading the word through social media, delivery artwork and art supplies or helping with the admin around the office. There are even internship opportunities for students who want to work with a social enterprise nonprofit.

For more information on Poverty and the Arts and to purchase artwork, volunteer or attend a show, visit povanashville.com.