By Carol Tannenhauser
Art and culture will never be extinguished in New York City, especially if it’s fostered in the young.
NYC public school students now have access to more than 90 FREE classes, taught virtually and in real-time, by world-class artists, dancers, writers, musicians, and more, through a website called Summer in the City. Since the city lends an iPad to every student who needs one, including children who are experiencing homelessness, no one will be excluded. (Though there are waitlists for several classes.)
“Anticipating a very rough summer for NYC kids, a large coalition of arts and culture institutions* banded together to offer FREE classes this summer,” Lisa Alpert, one of the organizers of Summer in the City, wrote to West Side Rag. “They’re all taught live, via Zoom, and many classes are ‘drop-in’ so kids can join at any time. The point is that, regardless of NYC neighborhood, kids can take classes, safely and virtually, on Zoom.”
Alpert, an Upper West Sider and frequent WSR tipster, gave us the following examples of classes being taught:
“The wildly talented soprano, Cheryl Warfield, who runs MORE opera (Manhattan Opera Repertory Ensemble) lives on West 75th Street (near me)! I just found this through my work on this program. Cheryl is teaching an extraordinary class, which she created just a few weeks ago. It’s called “Songs for George” to honor the BLM movement. Kids learn about the history of protest songs, and then write their own lyrics to express their feelings and opinions about today’s world.
“Also, the bestselling author Mark Alpert, is teaching a class on writing science fiction. (“As a high school student living in NYC right now, you probably already feel like you’re in a science-fiction dystopia. Why not write about it?”) He’s my husband, so I don’t want to appear too self (or husband-) promoting!” Alpert said.
There are countless other classes to explore, arranged by age groups, on the Summer in the City website, accessed here. Wrote Alpert, “From Caribbean Dance to Cultura Que Cura, from Intro to Sculpture to Writing about the Pandemic, Summer in the City offers specially curated classes for Pre-K students to recently graduated 12th graders. Reaching young people in vulnerable communities hardest hit by COVID-19 and who do not have regular access to the arts is a key priority of the program.”
*A wide range of arts organizations are participating in Summer in the City, including The Dwana Smallwood Performing Arts Center, the Art Students League of New York, Bronx River Art Center, Brooklyn Ballet, the Clemente Center, Museum of the City of New York, Staten Island Museum, and more.