Southside Community Coalition, Community Folk Art Center to establish pre-professional arts education program for children
Southside Community Coalition, Community Folk Art Center to establish pre-professional arts education program for children April 16, 2007Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
Ask any professional artist, and he or she will most likely tell you about an experience or set of experiences that contributed to his or her artistic accomplishments. For some, it may be a teacher who identified their skills and encouraged them, while for others it may have been exposure to different art forms and opportunities to explore different artistic venues.
To provide those kinds of experiences — and others — to artistic and musically gifted children in Syracuse, the Southside Community Coalition and the Community Folk Art Center (CFAC) are collaborating on the Urban Arts Education Program’s Kuumba Project. The project is a free, after-school, pre-professional arts education program developed by local professional artists and aimed at enriching the lives and developing the artistic talent of creative children in the city of Syracuse through exposure to and instruction in the arts.
As many as 50 children, ages 11-13, who are students in the Syracuse City School District, will be selected from upcoming auditions and can remain in the program until they graduate from high school. Auditions will take place May 1-4 by appointment. For more information on scheduling an audition, contact Margie Gantt at 443-1979. Selected students will be announced at the Southside Music and Arts Festival in July.
The program, conceived in concept by CFAC Managing Director Carol Dandridge Charles, will begin in September and run through the school year.
Students will attend class Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m. at Beauchamp Library. Local professional artists, including several from Syracuse University, will instruct students in studio arts, including drawing and painting; vocal and instrumental music; theater; dance; and literary arts, including playwriting and creative writing. Class sizes will be limited to ensure the best possible learning experience. Organizers are meeting this week to develop the program’s curriculum.
The program has several objectives. Not only do the organizers see the program as a way to develop artistic talent, sharpen skills and develop portfolios, but also aim for the formation of supportive mentor and peer groups, and creation of safe havens and performance opportunities.
“The Kuumba Project is designed to challenge participants to excel artistically and promote positive, visionary thinking and excellence,” says Charles. “Ultimately, the goal of the program is to attract and develop creative children with raw artistic ability, to prepare them for admission into colleges and conservatories of their choice.”
Charles says that creative children in the Syracuse community are at a disadvantage, particularly since the demise of the Metropolitan School for the Arts. While programs exist that serve children who are academically or athletically inclined, programs in the arts are few and far between. And where they do exist, they are often cost-prohibitive, she says.
“The Kuumba Project will fill the void,” says Charles. “The artists and educators involved in this project are committed to cultivating these children and preparing them for successful futures. We were them not so long ago.”
Other partners in the project include the Onondaga County Public Library, Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and the Department of African American Studies in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences.