In 1996, Cathy Binstock’s daughter, who was born with cerebral palsy, wanted to take ballet, just like many other little girls. Dance studios, concerned that they could not accommodate her, turned her down. Vowing that no child should be denied the opportunity to participate in the arts, Cathy contacted instructors and friends, and the River Performing and Visual Arts Center was born.
The River, a barrier-free, nonprofit, year-round arts enrichment program has served over 6,000 children between the ages of two and nineteen. Accepted are children with special needs, the homeless, siblings and community friends. The River provides classes in art, dance, music, drama and photography taught by artists in the Houston community. The River has a nurse on staff year-round, which helps provide respite for families. During the summer months, The River has an arts enrichment camp daily from 9:00-3:00.
During the school year, the River provides outreach arts enrichment classes that are held in special education programs in area schools and underserved social agencies. Volunteers receive community service that provides one-on-one assistance that requires individual support. The River students conclude each semester with a recital that’s open to the Houston community.
This year, the River students’ art work is featured at the Children's Museum Houston as the local component of the Boston Children's Museum Disability access Ability traveling exhibit. Cathy started this organization with a fundraiser in her home with friends and raised $20,000. This year is the River's tenth anniversary. The River has been supported generously through grants from the Cultural Arts Foundation, The Brown Foundation, The Houston Endowment, and many others.