© Photo by Renee Stewart Jackson

© Photo by Renee Stewart Jackson

BACKGROUND

Creative Identity is a 501(c)(3) non-profit music and art-based pre-vocational day program that serves adults, 18 years of age and older, with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Anaheim, California. Based on the fundamental belief that music and the expressive arts can promote positive change on all levels of human health, well-being, and foster development, Creative Identity was established in 1996. 

Creative Identity began with George Gilliam, a music therapist and professional jazz guitarist, and one musically gifted individual with an intellectual and developmental disability.  A year after its inception, Creative Identity expanded into an expressive arts program, and later into a music and expressive arts-based pre-vocational program, as a way to encourage full participation and community integration. 

Today, Creative Identity serves 38 musically and artistically talented adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Up to 160 music and expressive arts classes are offered each week in string and percussion instruments, choir, ceramics, and painting. At least six weekends out of the year are dedicated to community experiences where students can sell their artwork and ceramic ware at local craft fairs or art exhibitions and showcase their talents, skills, musical, and artistic progress through paid and community service concerts.

Under the leadership of a 13-member board of directors and committed staff of music therapists, art instructors, and program aides, Creative Identity continues to successfully improve the societal perceptions of individuals with intellectual disabilities and enrich the local music and art scene by providing a nurturing environment where clients, artists, and musicians-alike can establish a common dialogue through music and the expressive arts.