Our Story

Established in 1996, DREAMS of Wilmington is a youth development organization that is dedicated to building creative, committed citizens, one child at a time, by providing youth in need with high-quality, free-of-charge programming in the literary, visual and performing arts.

Today, we provide arts programming to more than 800 young people and their families each year. We offer more than 60 classes per week at 15 different sites in the Wilmington, NC area, including our newly renovated inner-city center on Wilmington’s North Side.

You’ll find DREAMS programming at public housing sites, city recreation centers, and in after-school and out-of-school programs across three counties.

We employ more than 30 teaching artists who share our passion of creating a world where every child has the right to self-expression and the opportunity to grow into the person that they are and wish to become.

What we do:

  • Programs. DREAMers choose from a wide array of classes including painting, percussion, photography, filmmaking, dance, drama and creative writing. Through the arts, DREAMers connect with positive, constructive peer groups and mentors, develop self-confidence and prepare for leadership in the community.
  • Real World Exposure. Through our Youth Entrepreneurship Program DREAMers value, market, and sell their artwork, which they exhibit at galleries, local shops and community events. Our students also perform and dance in shows, and create public art displays to beautify parks, buses and buildings around town. These projects instill a sense of pride in our students, and build connections between DREAMers and their community.
  • Visiting Artists. Our visiting artists allow our DREAMers to DREAM beyond geographical boundaries and get to know the artists in their own backyard. Grants from the Landfall Foundation, the NC Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts have enabled DREAMS to host incredible visual and performing artists from all over the world. DREAMS also partners with No Boundaries International Artist Colony, UNCW Presents, and The Dance Cooperative. Some of the guests have included: the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Chinese painter Wei Ru, Barbadian artist Neville Crawford, Playback Theatre, multimedia artist Steve Myott, violinist and composer Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), the Ensemble Galilei, ventriloquist Jay Johnson, and local comedy troupe, Pineapple-Shaped Lamps.
  • Excellence in Programming. DREAMS implements research-based curricula in arts education and youth development, assuring that DREAMers receive only the best. Due to this mindful approach, DREAMS has received overwhelming support at the local, state, regional, and national levels. In 2007, the DREAMS program was recognized by the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities with the Coming Up Taller Award, the nation’s highest honor for after-school and out-of-school programs. We have also received the UNC Wilmington’s Razor-Walker Award for distinguished service to youth, and have been recognized by the NC Governor’s Crime Commission for dedication and achievement in the area of juvenile justice.