Making an impact in Baltimore, together

On March 5, 6 & 8 we had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate BSA with the Baltimore Community at our annual fundraiser and showcase, Expressions. For more than thirty years now, this event has garnered private dollars for important initiatives and programs at BSA that are not funded by the Baltimore City Public Schools. Together, we raised more than half a million dollars to support the students at BSA, as well as the thousands of others that we touch through the school’s community outreach.

In my opening remarks at the event I took our guests “backstage” and shared a bit of what’s happening at BSA. I’d like to share those thoughts here with you.

We know that where a child lives in Baltimore can profoundly affect his or her opportunities. BSA is concerned about this reality and one of our most important programs is TWIGS, our free, after-school arts program for younger kids. We also know that just because a program is free doesn’t mean that all students can access it.

To reach kids in neighborhoods that BSA hasn’t touched deeply, we created a pilot program called HelloTWIGS. It targets the Armistead Gardens and Broadway East neighborhoods. School leaders there identified second- through sixth-graders that might thrive in dance, visual arts or theatre classes.

2016Expressions_Sat-373Thanks to generous support from City Council President Jack Young we have a bus that brings 40 students and parents to BSA classes every Saturday—all year long.  And they’ve been doing great!  We know that community partnerships like this are essential to BSA and Baltimore in the long term.

At Expressions, we had the opportunity to see some of our youngest students from the TWIGS dance program perform. We also asked filmmaker Joe Rubino to visit with the kids in Hello TWIGS to help us capture the program on camera. Take a look by clicking here.

We are also constantly thinking about how to nurture our high school students and ensure life success. In imagining the future, we must continue to create a powerful launch pad to prepare our young people for an exciting and ever changing world.

It will be a future that won’t look like yesterday or today. The weekly magazine, The Economist, recently contended “47% of today’s occupations will likely not exist in the next few decades.”

With that in mind, we believe it’s time to expand our idea of artistic education. As we continue to develop our students’ artistic expertise we are also espousing the following core values: confidence, curiosity, collaborative skills, individual purpose and global perspective.

We believe these characteristics are key to a powerful future for our kids AND we want to broaden what’s possible for them. Our school-wide plans for next year reflect this goal. Over the course of the year, we will study the art, culture and life of the people of the African continent. Africa is home to 15% of the world’s population or 1.1 billion people.  This project will develop our students’ global perspective.

BSFA1-3048Broadening what’s possible is also about new tools. Some of those tools are in our fantastic Center for Collaborative Arts & Technology. Right now, students and faculty are using this space, and some brand-new 3D Printers, to create a virtual reality camera rig, tying 6 GoPro cameras together to film an entire space simultaneously.

Before long, we hope to create a new cinematic storytelling major using some of the amazing technology in this space.

We’re also continuing to embrace what has worked so well in our current model and has led so many of our students to intensely rewarding careers, in the arts and in a variety of other fields.

Filmmaker Joe Rubino was able to capture some of the core values in action here in the work done everyday at BSA. He visited a master class with BSO Concertmaster Jonathan Carney as he helped BSA’s talented string players to prepare Bach’s Sinfonia No. 5 in b minor. Click here to see the video.

Joe also had the chance to observe and talk with BSA alum Jermaine Spivey, a dancer who has worked internationally for some incredible companies and choreographers. Click here to see the video.

2016Expressions_Sat-681All of this work is important and we know it will lead to great outcomes for our city and our young people. Many of the opportunities described here are also privately funded through the BSA Foundation and the proceeds from Expressions and other fundraising activities. We are immensely grateful to have the Baltimore Community by our side as we continue to

  • actively reach out to all neighborhoods of our city to make our programs accessible;
  • thoughtfully hone a nationally recognized, pre-professional high school that nurtures the young artists of the future;
  • prepare young people for creative lives in a rapidly changing world; and
  • broaden what’s possible with new tools and resources such those available in our Center for Collaborative Arts & Technology.

This work will not be happen without our community. Together we are making a beautiful and significant impact in Baltimore. Thank you and stay tuned for more news from BSA.

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