By Emily Martin

Art is a universal language. No matter what end of the earth you are from art is used to explore, discover, create and express.

It’s not about the literal language used to tell a story, but rather expression – not only to express a feeling or lesson to others, but allowing yourself, the creator to discover the inner-workings of your mind and body. In a way it’s a form of therapy and that’s why it is so useful and powerful when used by people to overcome hardships or to understand more about themselves: art transforming lives.

There are many organisations and groups around the world using art for just that – however a great question to ask is why we don’t see more of this?

In New York a Broadway theatre company is  ‘giving troubled teens a second act.’ Stargate Theatre (http://www.manhattantheatreclub.com/education/stargate/) has started a programme where they pay at-risk youth to script and stage performance pieces.

It not only gives these kids a source of income but it reduces recidivism, teaches them literacy and provides invaluable work experience.

Evan Elkin, a psychologist who was part of setting this up, backs up the belief of how valuable art can be for underprivileged kids and teenagers. “There’s this tremendous parallel process in theatre, creating a play in a therapeutic environment helps young people reflect on their decisions and envision overcoming the barriers they face.”

PHARE is a beautiful example of how art can help build lives for people not born into stability and privilege. The performers on stage have created a livelihood for themselves, one that not only gives others joy to watch but also one that has allowed them to deal with and overcome barriers that have been set before them.