New York cancels its prestigious summer arts training program this year


New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA) faculty and alumni are shocked and disappointed after learning that the highly competitive residential arts program was canceled this summer and may be in jeopardy.

Since 1970, the four-week program has enabled talented high school students to study with some of the world’s leading artists in the visual and performing arts in seven schools: ballet, modern dance, choral studies, orchestral studies, theater, visual arts and media arts.

A petition demanding answers and calling for the reinstatement of the state-funded program garnered more than 2,100 signatures on Tuesday afternoon.

“As many of you in the NYSSSA community know, a summer at NYSSSA can be a life-changing experience,” the petition reads. “It has always been an inclusive community that has helped broaden minds, elevate artistic skills and techniques, deepen knowledge of the history of each discipline, and has been a place to form lasting friendships.”

Without additional annual public funding of $2 million, state education department officials say NYSSSA’s future is in jeopardy.

The program was offered remotely during the summers of 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No virtual or in-person programs will be offered in the summer of 2022 due to several factors, including fiscal challenges and virtual format fatigue, ministry officials said.

The ballet, modern dance, and orchestra programs were typically held at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs each summer, with principals and teachers drawn from the ranks of the New York City Ballet, Philadelphia Orchestra, and prominent dance companies presented as part of the Saratoga Performing Arts. Center season.

Other programs have been based in Fredonia, Delhi and Alfred State College of SUNY in recent years.

The open competition for program seats attracted students from across the state who demonstrated exceptional artistic skills and talents. About 33% of former participants have received partial or full scholarships, according to the Department of Education.

Haley Rawson, who attended NYSSSA acting school in 2004, said the experience changed her life.

“NYSSSA is a huge opportunity for kids in New York City. It gave me the courage as a youngster to audition for colleges, start a theater company with my fellow NYSSSA alumni, and carry on. to play professionally,” she said. “The teachers who were there then are still there now, they are amazing and brilliant mentors that any teenager interested in pursuing the arts would have the chance to learn from.”

Stella Hobart, who attended NYSSSA’s visual arts program in 2018 and 2019, hoped to return in 2020 and 2021 as a teaching assistant, but her plans were thwarted by the pandemic.

“I was devastated to learn a few weeks ago that this year, instead of just being postponed, the program was canceled altogether,” Hobart said.

Historically, NYSSSA tuition revenue has been supplemented by three streams of state funding. In 2012, these sources of funding were consolidated into the Cultural Education Revenue Account, which is now burdened with over $1 million in personnel and other program costs.

The $2 million budget allocation requested by the State Department of Education to support NYSSSA is not included in Governor Kathy Hochul’s executive budget or the Assembly’s budget proposals. State and State Senate. The state budget for 2023 is due on April 1.

For summer 2022, NYSSSA will instead offer $150,000 in scholarship opportunities for high school students to participate in other regional summer arts programs, the state Department of Education said.

“We are delighted to offer this new scholarship program to students interested in the arts,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr.. “Regents believe that every student should have the opportunity to participate actively in arts education. This scholarship program will allow students from all socioeconomic backgrounds to connect with the arts through summer programs that may have previously posed a financial challenge to their families.

Students can apply for a scholarship until May 1 through an online application on the NYSSSA website.

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