Community Engagement Programme

Art1st Community Engagement Programme (CEP) is a not-for-profit collaborative endeavour aimed at enhancing intervention at the level of community, to ensure a wide and democratic access to art.

The CEP provides a platform for the dialogic and creative process-focussed on enhancing high-level thinking skills, central to making art. The methodical approaches for each project rely on individual context and are trans-disciplinary.

  • Institutions
    engaged with


  • Workshops

  • Children

  • Number of


Art for All

The CEP has worked with various sensitive groups, including children of sex workers and trash pickers, autistic adults, juvenile delinquents. Through a collaboration with libraries pan-India, the program also works to develop visual literacy among children from low income localities.

CEP believes that the school is one of the crucial nodes for community learning, and recognizes it as a site of knowledge building. The program aims to closely engage with low-income schools across India by adopting various methodologies of creative engagement.

The Art+Lit program is guided by
our vision of widespread visual literacy in children through literature.

It offers the Art1st books free of cost to libraries across India, including community libraries, self-funded, not-for-profit libraries, and foundations. The program also shares resources for librarians and local educators – including a curated Educators’ Guide – as aids to take the books forward with children.


Our work with The Community Library Project (TCLP) under the Art+Lit program has artist-mentors engage with children from low income localities, in libraries, using Art1st publications as provocations. With active interactions and free-flowing dialogues, it enables children to develop their own unique creative processes.

  • AA's Book Nerds
  • Akshara Foundation: The Classroom Library
  • Antar Bharati Balgram – Lonavala
  • Apne Aap Women's Collective – Mumbai
  • Arunima – Dehradun
  • Aseema – Mumbai
  • Aured – Mumbai
  • Balprakash – Ajmer
  • Bookpal
  • Bookwallah
  • Buguri, Hasiru Dala
  • Community art library - New Delhi
  • Deeksha
  • Deepalaya - New Delhi
  • Eklavya
  • Hasiru Dala – Bangalore
  • Jai Vakeel Foundation – Mumbai
  • Jasmine Library Naggar
  • Karm Marg – Haryana
  • Karvaan Books - Srinagar
  • Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust
  • Kitaben Bolti hain
  • Latika Roy Foundation – Dehradun
  • Let's Read India - Navi Mumbai
  • Let's Open a book - New Delhi
  • Loka – Bihar
  • Muktangan – Mumbai
  • Nalanda Way
  • Navayana
  • Parag Tata Trust
  • Pustakavcha Gaav
  • Reading raccoons – Faridabad
  • Room to Read
  • Salaam Balak trust - New Delhi
  • Sanskriti
  • Share a book – Mumbai
  • Slam out loud - New Delhi
  • Tender Heart School – Faridabad
  • Walking Bookfairs
  • Women Unlimited
  • Yuva ekta foundation – Haryana

Sponsor your choice of Art1st Books to be sent across to the libraries we collaborate with. Your support will help us not only give children access to high-quality books on art but also train librarians to use the educational kits accompanying the books.

Get a set of our books along

with resources and a coaching program
for the librarians

All Projects

Age group: 1-16 years
Year of collaboration: 2017
Aured is a centre of excellence for children with hearing loss, enabling them to communicate through Listening and Spoken Language.

In Art1st’s collaboration with Aured, the mentor’s approach was to first understand the children – their background, age, level of complexity of disability, as well as their interests and emotional needs. Based on this understanding, conceptual and experiential projects were built using various art materials and an element of play.

The use of games sparked in the children a sharp sense of observation and a keen association with objects of daily life. They showed an understanding of different materials, and of the concepts of colour, shape and form. In a very short span, they acquired an art vocabulary and were able to express themselves.

To share an example: In one particular session, the children were asked to illustrate forms and colours of a tree. One of them drew a tree with leaves in different shades of orange where the light fell, and the branch in multiple tones. On being asked, he explained that when he was traveling by train to reach the centre, he saw these colours in the trees outside, as they passed between light and shadow.

Age group: 4-16 years
Bal Jeevan Trust works towards transforming the lives of impoverished street children in Mumbai.

Art1st intervention at the Trust began with an exploration of the emotional landscape of the children – their fears, insecurities, beliefs and aspirations. Coming from economically challenged and troubled backgrounds, they wore a sense of hopelessness and cynicism. To address this, the artist mentors focussed on opening their minds, awakening self-confidence, and instilling free expression – through art.

For the sessions, the children were divided into three groups, age wise. The approach was dynamic – each session designed based on insights from previous sessions.

For the youngest group (KG to 3rd grade), creative interaction, such as material exploration, storytelling and body mapping, was used to make their worlds palpable and real. Sessions were designed to explore the gentler emotions of love, caring and a feeling of belonging.

For instance, the children were asked to go home and show their gratitude and love to their parents – every single day. They just had to say ‘thank you’ with a smile and a hug! Though at first they met with resistance, in a few days, each of them had remarkable stories to share.

A girl joyfully reported that her mother had reciprocated the love by taking her to the garden and buying her a balloon. While another, an orphan, now felt appreciated, for her grandmother who was earlier irritated with her grandchildren had begun to hug them and smile at them. The children painted their experiences with a sense of joy and wonder.

Further, the children were introduced to and imbibed values of sharing, respecting others, following rules, cleanliness, and finding joy in their topsy turvy world.

The second group (4th to 7th grade) exhibited feelings of jealousy and disrespect towards each other, and hopelessness in themselves. Sessions were designed to show them the power of positive thinking and open their minds to the possibility of achieving their dreams and aspirations. In a simple exercise, they were each asked to find out the meaning of their name and turn it into a guessing game for their peers. This led them to finding self worth as they reflected on the many qualities hidden in their names.

Another session had them think of their most audacious dreams and picture them coming true by drawing them out. Yet another released the grip of painful memories by drawing them and then scratching their drawings.

The third group (8th to 10th grade), with their rebellious and defiant attitude, was not so easy to tackle. The artist mentors engaged them with activities such as drama and visualisation, creative drawing, creative drawing and digiwork, encouraging them to think differently and find release in expression.

Mindsets had changed and moods had visibly shifted by the end of the sessions. The biggest win of the sessions was an unmissable feeling of hope that most children now had.

Age group: 18 to 35+ years
Year of collaboration: 2019
Arunima is an assisted living-cum-training program for adults with autism, and other developmental disabilities.

The Art1st mentor planned the projects keeping the cognitive abilities of each group in mind. Activities were then built around their daily routines – walking in a garden, swimming, trekking, grocery shopping, cooking, playing cricket, playing board games, yoga. This familiarity helped build a foundation of trust.

With play and exploration forming the basis of the sessions, the lively engagement was unmistakable. The participants showed enthusiasm in articulation – using not just different art materials to express but also words and body movement. For instance, in a session on recreating leaves using clay, a participant brought out kitchen tools – a knife, fork and butter knife – on his own behest, to give his clay leaves a life-like rendering.


To co-create or host workshops


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