Jesse with participant Elijah and Elijah's mum, Susanna

Jesse Sullivan began volunteering with Jesuit Social Services’ Artful Dodgers Studios a decade ago. He was drawn to the program’s unique approach in engaging young individuals who experience disadvantage.

“Artful Dodgers is a welcoming space for young people to access art and music equipment and support from Community and Cultural Development workers who are practising artists and provide one-on-one mentoring. But it’s also a place young people can re-engage with learning and build self-confidence, social connection, and a sense of belonging,” said Jesse.

Jesse is now a Community and Cultural Development worker with Artful Dodgers Studios. He believes that because the program focuses on young people as artists, it’s able to reach people who are disengaged or don’t know where to find support.

“Young people who come here are often living under difficult circumstances and may never have seen a psychologist or connected with a support service before.”

“Dodgers has successfully connected some of these young people to the supports they need. I think that’s because when they come here, the primary focus isn’t on their trauma or circumstances. They’re here to make art and music.

“They feel seen as individuals, and that builds a sense of trust and confidence in the space, and us as workers.”


Community Cultural Development Worker

The space is home to a pottery studio, music recording studio and practice space, and equipment for multimedia and digital arts practice, and is open to young people aged 15-27.

Artful Dodgers Studios also hosts a regular public lunchtime gig called Megaphone – a chance for young people to present or perform their art and music, show up to support each other, and spend time together.

“We work with people, sometimes at the most difficult points of their lives. Some of their stories are very challenging. But I think this place has a calming effect – something about our 25 years of history, and a sense that Dodgers feels like family.

“For those young people who have mental health issues, and may be experiencing disconnection, isolation, or low self-esteem, Dodgers can provide a sense of social inclusion.

“The thing that’s kept me here for ten years is seeing the way young people progress over time – seeing the therapeutic impact of making art, and the impact on young people’s confidence and sense of community.”

Donate to Jesuit Social Services and support young people like Elijah find confidence and community.