Baltimore school for arts wins grant

Two N.Y. foundations award $1.1 million

new programs planned

`External recognition'


April 04, 2001|By Erika Niedowski | Erika Niedowski,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore School for the Arts is one of five public performing arts high schools in the country being awarded a $1.1 million grant from two New York foundations.

The five-year grant, which will be announced today, will enable the school to launch several new programs in its performing arts and music departments, including a dance residency and a mentorship program in acting.

"We felt great to have the kind of external recognition that we're doing good work and that we are considered to be national leaders," said Leslie Shepard, acting head of the 300-student school in Mount Vernon.

The grant is being given jointly by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Surdna Foundation, as part of their Talented Students in the Arts Initiative.

It includes $375,000 in artistic program support from Surdna and $750,000 in endowment support from Doris Duke.

Surdna's program officer for the arts, Ellen Rudolph, called Baltimore School for the Arts a "major cultural institution" that nurtures young talent.

"It's a critical part of the cultural health and life of the city and also helps develop artists who will work everywhere in the country," she said.

The School for the Arts, one of 11 schools invited to apply for the grant, will use the money in part to create a three-week artist-in-residence program in dance and an eight-week mentor program in acting.

"We want them to get that kind of experience while they're in school," said Shepard. "It's a great networking thing. It's a great thing to have on your resume. That really helps them get a step ahead when they're out auditioning."

Other plans the school has for the grant money:

Establish a Theater Technology Fund to enable students and faculty can become familiar with the most up-to-date technology for set and costume design.

Strengthen instruction in music theory and music literacy.

Expand a summer program for students between their junior and senior years to study at nationally renowned institutions such as Berklee College of Music or Tanglewood Music Center.

Clair Zamoiski Segal, chair of the school's board of overseers, stressed the importance of the arts in the students' lives.

"This is a true pre-professional performing arts high school, and it's just a thrill because they take it so seriously," said Segal.

"They want to do well, and what they give to their teachers and what their teachers give to them is quite extraordinary," Segal said.

The Talented Students in the Arts initiative, a new collaboration between Doris Duke and Surdna, will provide $16 million over five years to five public arts high schools and four arts training institutions, some at the college level.

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, which was established in 1996, supports the arts, the environment, children and public health research.

The Surdna Foundation, which was founded in 1917, also funds programs in the arts and environment, as well as community revitalization, nonprofits and good citizenship.

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