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Organizations: Backstreet Community Arts

Brent Walker says a camera saved his life.

“I was in and out of recovery at least a dozen times and struggled to achieve long-term sobriety,” he says. “Now I have over 10 years of freedom from the substances that were killing me, and the only significant difference was finding purpose through photography.”

Walker, who has just published a book of his work, The Hidden South, is a board member of Backstreet Community Arts, a nonprofit that offers artistic opportunities for healing and personal growth in Newnan.

“Most people have a broken place that art can heal,” says founder and executive director Kim Ramey. “Our goal is to provide the supplies they need in an environment conducive to creativity.”

Clients can work on a variety of projects using oil paint, acrylics, watercolor, metal, beading, embroidery, leather crafts, fiber arts, puppet making and art journaling. Most of these supplies are donated, “but we also look for sales at Michael’s,” Ramey says.

The organization opened last year and has since served more than 1,700 people, with funding from donations and grants and an army of 25 volunteers, most of whom are working artists. Ramey initially envisioned Backstreet as a venue for the homeless, but she ultimately decided to open it to anyone who needs help.

“We have a diverse mix of people coming in,” she says, “So you might see a county judge working alongside someone who is indigent, and they never would’ve met otherwise.”

This year, Backstreet projects that it will serve 2,900 clients. “Art has value beyond what is put on a canvas,” Ramey says.

backstreetart.org

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