Welcome to the process that is the

Pythia Arts Center for Social Change 
As an agency that promotes and researches community development issues through innovative solutions, we tend to attack simultaneously from many angles. Our solutions weave together a multi-dimentional, relational care of this community with a depth that is informed by fascinating, beautiful cultures from all over the globe. 

Our multi-cultural arts programming combines self-care and life skills education for warrior children when needed, as well as effective advocacy, homework aid and counseling by highly skilled providers. We go the extra mile, as First Responders in the neighborhood during crises as well as through developing relationships with children’s teachers and providing active classroom involvement when needed. All are welcome, though the group size is limited to enable a fuller connection to the staff and families. We stand by them, no matter what happens.

To quote an Ohlone Tribal Chieftain Anne Marie Sayers, it is everyone’s birthright to sing, dance, play music, and create. Our workshops and activities are always free to our community of individuals that have been denied this. All of the deeply talented, skilled and trained artists and educators that bring their love of what they do here, are volunteers from a devotion to love life, and a desire to share with exceptional youth. They come here for a different kind of experience, providing a deepening relationship between art, children, culture, and life. As the abuse, neglect and endangerment of animals has been utilized as an indirect method of abusing children, we have also become animal rights advocates.

We do not capitalize on a need for our effort in order for us financially thrive as an agency.  Child prostitution and drug addiction are rampant in our neighborhood; capitalizing on this in order to fuel the engine of this intimately-driven agency inhibits our effectiveness here. We have developed deep relationships over the years with children who, when we first met them, perceived themselves as commodities in families controlled by addiction and mental illness. We have been successful at uncovering dark family secrets only through love, acceptance, patience, and the willingness to receive a ton of education in the matter.

We now do not accept grants or donations to financially profit us as an agency. All who wish to donate now need to have direct involvement as part of our community development efforts in breaking through classist and racist ideologies here in Oakland.

No tax deductions from donations to us can be permitted. Our neighborhood research has shown that a parent who is teaching their child to grift or leading her to prostitution through abuse and neglect, understands this as exploitation perpetrated by the wealthy. Children end up perceiving nonprofit agencies as functioning similarly to their welfare-recipient parents. As part of our work involves the healing of institutionalization, we have worked hard to find ways to directly encourage a balanced, healthy, non-martyristic evolution of this relationship between agency, power, saviorhood, and our community, with needs specifically addressed.

We also have hard-working families taking with us, that do everything they can to encourage their children’s success. All are included in our work, however we deeply take into consideration how our financial gain functions within the context of our neighborhood’s need, and the development of positive self-concept of the children.

We are open about who we are through our effort in our community. It is one of the many reasons why we are situated in Dawn McMahan’s live/work studio, rather than an office. Several of the children have held internships here, where they were learning budget maintenance and creation. As part of this, they have worked with Dawn’s checking account and credit card bills. Our clients have actively witnessed our lives, learning from our victories and mistakes.

We actively question professional boundaries and their effect on institutionalized behavior and the dehumanization of the poor and disabled with our work, wisely protecting ourselves, and being well-informed on the issues with Dawn McMahan being a National Association of Social Workers’ Ethics Committee member. We are working within cultural and class contexts that require a specified definition of boundaries and professionalism, often in the face of centuries of institutionalization. We have weekly meetings to discuss and document our successes and failures, embracing foibles and strength. 

As our programming here at the Oak Tree Arts Center has thrived for six years, we are beginning to be able to discern and document positive effects of our work through our dedication and the courage of our community. Our approach is tailored specifically to our community and our families, addressing both our and their life experiences here. 

All donations are accompanied by self-involvement of the activity the donor wishes to support. All donors must have acquired the capacity to provide their involvement by holding a job, a fact that is shared with the families. For many reasons, we do not blithely provide opportunities as if by magic from an anonymous donor, nor do we wish to support the concept of children being raised by agencies and institutiions, like Juvenile Hall. The funding is directly provided by caring people from many cultures and walks of life. Again, no donor receives any kind of direct financial gain from involvement, only self-development, courage, and love. 

We do not provide scholarships for the needy, basing a reward on a capacity to complain poverty, but instead we award outstanding efforts with activities, special events, field trips involving exposure to the many cultures and ways of existence that reside in the Bay Area. We create loving life memories and life-lasting relationships with our families, while nurturing individuality and a positive cultural claiming within a context of extreme diversity. We want these children to be able to travel the globe with confidence, and open their lives up to adventure and wonderment.

We cannot have home-grown artists without combatting any of this, let alone raise functioning adults. It does take a village.

We seek a fluid redefining of beauty as part of our work to bring a multicultural community together in East Oakland.

If you wish to see what we were before our dedicated research evolved us to where we are today, with all of our grants and major donors worshipping our humble beginnings, as well as our company and staff, enter our website here.

Contact us at pythiadance@gmail.com if you have any burning questions. We like them. We always learn from being challenged, as we ever move forward, ever evolve to find solutions that are truly effective...even if they go against the grain. We try really, really hard to see, and invoke important discussion.Pythia_dance_educate_heal.htmlPythia_dance_educate_heal.htmlPythia_dance_educate_heal.htmlPythia_dance_educate_heal.htmlmailto:pythiadance@gmail.comshapeimage_1_link_0shapeimage_1_link_1shapeimage_1_link_2shapeimage_1_link_3shapeimage_1_link_4