The AOK Story

AOK founders Kathy Fletcher and David Simpson have been supporting young creative people—all of whom have enormous potential but too little support—for many years. In the summer of 2016 they formed AOK, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, in order to provide more comprehensive support to the young artists they were supporting.

Kathy and David have long been convinced that art is a tremendously powerful key that can unlock what’s best within us, help us see what’s best in others and connect us in profound ways. And though all of us are born with tremendous creative potential, the flowering of young artists does not happen automatically.

Young artists need support and encouragement from a community of fellow artists and others who see their potential, who are committed to their success. They need access to support, resources, opportunities, connections and networks. At AOK, we’ve seen what a difference such a supportive community can make. Over the first several years of our operating, we attracted through word of mouth many young artists who needed some form of support to establish themselves firmly on a path toward independence and success in meeting their potential as young adults and as artists.

With the help of an amazing community, we helped the first generation of young AOK artists get through high school, get their GEDs, and get into college. We found them tutors and mentors, paid for tuition, helped them apply for scholarships, internships and jobs. We found them computers, bikes and phones, put them on our phone plans, bought them canvases and paint, provided space for them to make and show their work, fed them and let them stay with us, for months and even years at a time, when they had nowhere else to go. We hosted—and still host—regular dinners for all who care to come—a range of young and old who find nourishment of body and spirit by sitting around our table together.

And now that the first generation of artists have achieved lift-off, we are focusing on our new Artists Retreat Center in Wellfleet, MA, as the best way we can support subsequent generations of young, emerging artists.