One can argue that art is frivolous, that it should be the last thing that the homeless and poor are concerned about. But the truth is that they are interested. They do come to the writing workshop table on Friday and they do return the next, with stories written down or with tales to recount out loud. They find something there in the process, what it is exactly, I would not presume to say. All I know is what I see: they do pick up the cameras and go out and take pictures.
It may well be that the practice of art has some ameliorative effect on the lives of these people. And that is good. But art is also about the production of something whose value derives, not from who produced it or the pathos of their lives and circumstances, but from genuine insight and craft that is several cuts above the ordinary. I get a lot a pleasure and enlightenment out of playing the piano and I would recommend learning how to play music to anyone. But what I cannot be regarded as a musical artist. Fundamentally, we are talking of art here in two very different senses.
As for mimes directing traffic, spare me, please.