The Spotlight’s on… The Summer Arts Institute

Summertime doesn’t always mean vacation for NYC’s public school students. Now in its sixth year, The Summer Arts Institute provides over 200 talented students in grades 8-12 with the opportunity to attend a free, intensive program at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan. Many participants go on to specialized arts high schools or conservatories.

Organized by the Department of Education’s (DOE) Office of Arts and Special Projects, the Institute was created in the aftermath of 9/11 to give children an artistic outlet. During the four-week program, students specialize in an arts discipline of their choice – dance, drama, visual art, vocal music, instrumental music, photography, or film. They work with master DOE arts specialists, guest artists, and selected collaborating cultural organizations: Theatre for a New Audience, American Ballet Theatre, Tribeca Film Institute, and Young Audiences NY.

Theatre for a New Audience leads the drama program, which focuses on audition preparation and ensemble work for young actors. Students develop acting and stage directing skills as well as facility in using classical text. The program culminates with a live performance for families and the local community.

The DOE’s Director of Dance Programs Joan Finkelstein believes the collaboration with City cultural institutions is what makes the program special. A hallmark of the program is the partnership between the DOE and NYC’s cultural institutions, she said.

Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor of the NYC Dept of Education Joel I. Klein, Commissioner Dept of Cultural Affairs Kate D. Levin, and other officials, with some of this summer’s Summer Arts Institute’s students. Photo courtesy of the mayor’s office.