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Meet Jill Gurr of Create Now

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jill Gurr.

Jill, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I worked in the film industry for 20+ years as a Script Supervisor on international productions with famous actors and directors. After working on “Menace 2 Society” and “My Family,” I saw the need in the community to impact youth. I taught two screenwriting workshops to groups of incarcerated youth and they learned how to read and write through my program. Others wanted to return to school and attend college, and one gang leader had tattoos removed from his neck and hands.

Thanks to a donation from producer Leslie Stevens at the AFI, I launched Create Now in 1996 as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit in 1996. While it was originally called Write Now!, I realized that many of the kids preferred music, dance, art, etc. so in 1998, the name was officially changed to Create Now.

Since then, we have reached 48,000+ of the neediest youth in Los Angeles and adjacent Counties.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been a challenge to raise money. There isn’t enough contributed to the arts even through arts education is what keeps kids in school and drives our economy.

Also, it is difficult to find people who are really committed to supporting the organization and following through on their commitments. Many people have good intentions but their lives become busy and they sometimes fade away. This can be difficult – especially if they are interacting with the kids.

We’d love to hear more about your organization.
For 23 years, Create Now has served more than 48,000 of the most vulnerable youth in Southern California. We empower kids ages 3 to 24 by focusing on young people challenged by poverty, violence, abuse, neglect and homelessness.

Our workshops in painting, guitar, photography, fashion, all of the arts, take place at shelters, group homes, rehab centers, detention facilities and mental health agencies, and at Title 1, continuation and charter schools throughout the Greater Los Angeles area.

Every year, Create Now brings thousands of children to concerts, plays and other Cultural Journeys at premier venues. We also produce community events, like Power of the Arts Festivals and mural projects.

We target the most vulnerable children and young adults who are abused, neglected, orphaned, homeless, incarcerated, victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking, substance abusers, and those dealing with similar challenges.

Create Now provides these “forgotten children” with high-quality arts programs, enriching opportunities and caring artists who often operate as mentors. This is accomplished through our network of 175+ partner youth agencies, such as shelters, foster group homes, schools, detention centers, etc.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I used to organize Talent Shows in my neighborhood starting at around nine-years-old. I’d ask my friends to perform and we would get our parents to pay a small fee and then share the proceeds.

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