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About Us

Bigger Than Us Arts (BTU Arts)

where creativity knows no bounds and art education knows no barriers.

We're more than just an arts organization – we're a movement driven by the belief that art has the power to transcend limitations, inspire change, and unite communities.

Our journey began with a simple yet bold vision: to make arts education accessible and affordable for all.

Our Team

Our Mission


We're dedicated to providing unparalleled arts education that's inclusive, diverse, and transformative. We believe that every individual, regardless of age, background, or circumstance, deserves the opportunity to explore their creativity and express themselves through music, visual arts, and performing arts.

Our Approach

Our approach is as multifaceted as the arts themselves. From virtual to in-person classes, we've crafted a range of educational experiences tailored for both children and adults. Whether you're a professional artist or stepping into the world of creativity for the first time, our experienced instructors and teaching artists are here to guide and nurture your artistic journey.

Our Community


We're more than just a classroom – we're a community united by the love of art. Our programs extend beyond the studio, reaching into neighborhoods and hearts. Through workshops, classes, parades, and collaborative performances, we're building a network of artists, learners, and enthusiasts who believe in the power of artistic expression to foster positive change.

Our Vision


We envision a world where art is a universal language that breaks barriers, opens minds, and fosters empathy. We're committed to making that vision a reality by offering affordable education, fostering creativity, and supporting positive forms of expression.

Our Heart

What truly sets us apart is our unwavering passion. We're fueled by the joy that art brings to individuals, families, and entire communities. Our journey is guided by the belief that the arts are not just a luxury but a vital part of the human experience, and we're determined to make that experience accessible to everyone.

Join us in celebrating the beauty of creativity, the magic of self-expression, and the boundless potential of every individual. Let's paint, sing, dance, and create together, embracing the notion that art is bigger than us – it's a force that unites, inspires, and transforms.

Meet Our Team

Benwar Shepard - Executive Director

Sam Phelps - Manager of School Programs

Noah Flores - Manager of Community Programs

Matthew Valenzuela - Operations Director

Dr. Joby Morrow - Grant Writer

Barbara Collier - Human Resources Coordinator

Teaching Artists

Dominic Garcia - Teaching Artist

Jose Ortiz - Teaching Artist

Board of Directors

Dr. Torence Powell - Chairman

Peter Petty - Treasurer

Brandon Au

Daniel Smith 

Rai-mon Nemar Barnes




Shamareia Felder - The Met High School 

Meet Our Partners



How We Do It

How We Do It

Our approach to arts education is as diverse and dynamic as the arts themselves. We're committed to fostering a creative environment where every individual can explore their talents, express themselves, and discover the transformative power of art.


Here's how we bring our mission to life:

Inclusivity and Accessibility

We believe that art education should be accessible to all. That's why we offer a range of programs designed to accommodate various schedules, skill levels, and learning preferences. From virtual classes that break geographical boundaries to in-person sessions that foster community connections, we're dedicated to ensuring that anyone who wants to explore the arts can do so without limitations.

Expert Instruction

Our team of skilled and passionate instructors is the heart of BTU Arts. With years of experience and expertise in their respective fields, they guide students through a structured curriculum while also encouraging creative exploration. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced artist, our instructors provide personalized guidance that nurtures growth and enhances your artistic journey.

Collaborative Learning

Art is a collaborative endeavor that thrives on shared experiences. We cultivate a sense of community within our programs, encouraging students to interact, exchange ideas, and learn from one another. Our workshops, group projects, and interactive activities provide opportunities for collaboration and connection that enrich the learning process.

Hands-On Engagement

We believe in the power of hands-on learning. Our classes are designed to immerse students in practical experiences that go beyond theory. Whether it's playing a musical instrument, painting a canvas, or performing on stage, our emphasis on active engagement allows individuals to apply their knowledge and build skills through practice.

Personal Growth and Expression

Art is a vehicle for personal growth and self-expression. We encourage students to explore their unique voices, experiment with different techniques, and push their creative boundaries. Through art, individuals can gain confidence, develop critical thinking skills, and find a means of expressing themselves authentically.

Community Impact

Art has the ability to transform communities, and we're dedicated to using our platform for positive change. Our programs extend beyond our studio walls to reach neighborhoods, schools, and public spaces. By collaborating with local partners, artists, and organizations, we aim to inspire, connect, and enrich the lives of those around us.


Continuous Innovation

The arts are ever-evolving, and so are we. We're committed to staying up-to-date with the latest trends, technologies, and teaching methodologies in the arts education landscape. This commitment to innovation ensures that our students receive an education that is not only relevant but also inspiring and forward-thinking.

Join us at BTU Arts as we embark on a journey of creativity, learning, and exploration. Experience the arts in an inclusive, engaging, and transformative way that empowers you to unleash your potential and contribute to a more vibrant and connected community.

View a list of our partners here

View a list of our programs here

View our diversity, equity, and inclusion statement here

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