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How a Cash-Strapped Arts Center Creates Career Paths for Young Artists

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May 16, 2016

A New York Times profile on Suitland High School—and their Center for Performing and Visual Arts—shows how arts education programs can create unique, inspiring career pathways, particularly for students of color. The Center for Visual and Performing Arts, known as the Annex, was founded in 1986. While it has seen dwindling enrollment, it has, according to the Times, been “a crucible for emerging artists, many of them African-Americans, and some now rising to national prominence.”

Two of those graduates are Sam Vernon, class of ’05, who is currently featured in three shows in New York City, including the Brooklyn Museum, and Eric N. Mack, class of ’05, who is preparing a show that will open in Paris this fall. “The two artists said that the world inside the Annex . . . was where it all began.”

Since 2008, countywide budget cuts have threatened Suitland’s success in arts education. However, a rigorous instruction environment and a dedicated teaching staff—many of whom dip into their own pocket to pay for art supplies—has allowed the art center to continue its positive impact. “The teacher-student connection is very deep and very long term, and helps us develop and flourish as artists,” said Yaa Cunningham, a student at the Annex who will attend the University of Rochester in the fall.

According to Jeff Poulin at Americans for the Arts, for students intent on a career path in the arts, “Suitland is an exemplar program for what we seek to see in schools all over the country.”

Read the full article here.

This resource brought to you by the National Guild for Community Arts Education. www.nationalguild.org