Why Kate Middleton chose to patronise The Art Room, an art therapy charity that helps children with emotional difficulties
It is remarkable that, out of the four charitable patronages that The Duchess of Cambridge announced on the 5 January, two were dedicated to art. The National Portrait Gallery, of course, makes sense: it is a major national institution, and an obvious choice for royal patronage. But more unusual is her choice of The Art Room – the smallest charity of the four, dedicated to helping children between the ages of five and 16 years with emotional difficulties develop confidence and social skills via the medium of art. In particular, the organization works with children who suffer from conditions such as Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. Working primarily through existing schools, the charity sets up ‘rooms for art’ that provide children with a focal point and safe place, hoping to teach its beneficiaries life skills, such as the ability to focus and work through disputes, all by using different forms of art.
Founder and director of The Art Room, Juli Beattie is, of course, overjoyed, saying that Middleton’s choice is ‘fantastic endorsement of the work we do and the role that art and creativity can play in helping children and young people whose start in life has been difficult’: “This is wonderful news. On behalf of all of our Trustees and staff and the children and young people we support, I want to thank The Duchess for choosing The Art Room’. But why did she? Art therapy is a relatively young therapeutic discipline. It first began around the mid-20th Century, arising independently in English-speaking and European areas. In England, as in the U.S., the roots of art therapy lay mainly in art education, the practice of art, and developmental psychology. It seems that the inspiration for Kate Middleton’s choice came partly from three months of study and observation, according to St. James’ Palace, but may also have been inspired by the success of international projects such as Inner City Arts – a charity that uses art to help impoverished youths in Los Angeles develop community and skills – that she and William visited last year.
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