Issue: March/April 2012
Community Impact Awards 2012: Artist Appreciation
Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio’s ArtWorks program pairs aspiring student artists with professionals to teach leadership, collaboration and creativity.
There is no shortage of creativity in Skye Wingo’s life. Whether it’s painting or making short films or creating ideas for board games, Wingo discovers an outlet for his ideas.
Until a couple of years ago, however, finding the time for those outlets was difficult.
Wingo has been involved with the art program at his high school, Lake Ridge Academy, but like most schools, art class has its limitations. “It might take you a whole semester to finish something,” says Wingo.
That’s why Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio’s ArtWorks program fit Wingo so well. Students can focus on an art form for 30 hours a week for six weeks in the summer. Not only can the students immerse themselves in such areas as painting, dance, photography or digital game design, they also are paid apprentices. Some of the programs produce art that is displayed and sold.
Along with being paid minimum wage, apprentices are given an education in how to open a bank account, deal with finances, start a business and select a college.
ArtWorks also provides regular roundtables with speakers such as Darryl McDaniels of Run-D.M.C., state Sen. Nina Turner and Greg Malkin, director of University School’s Entrepreneur Institute.
“When I was a sophomore, I wasn’t thinking about colleges,” says Wingo, a senior now. “They had courses for getting started making your own business instead of having to work fast food while your art is being made. They were saying, ‘Here’s the confidence you need, and here’s what you need to do with it.’ ”
The program began in 2005 with just 50 students, the result of Young Audiences wanting to reach more high school students through art, especially those in schools with little art education. Through mostly word of mouth, the program ballooned over the next few years until last summer when it had 422 students apply for 131 apprenticeships. The program has expanded from one location in Shaker Square to offerings in downtown Cleveland’s Halle Building and Tri-C Metro, and from summer only to a winter, summer and fall schedule. In 2011, that meant the creation of 151 temporary jobs.
“The kids are interviewed, but they don’t bring a portfolio or audition,” says Marsha Dobrzynski, executive director of Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio. “They have to have passion. Some kids come in with skills and some do not. They really help each other and teach each other to succeed.”
Wingo worked with painter JoAnn DePolo to help create a community mural. Last summer, he moved to digital game design and did so well that this winter ArtWorks asked him to be a teaching assistant for the after-school digital game design program.
“Really, it’s me being their guide and helping them,” says Wingo. “A lot of kids are shy in school. I was shy, but ArtWorks definitely took that away.”
This record has been viewed 502