Created in 2009, The High School Arts Council (HSAC) is an initiative of The Rye Arts Center, the largest not-for-profit community arts center in Westchester. The RAC’s mission is to inspire interest and maximum participation in the arts. We partner with high schools across Westchester and Fairfield Counties, each of which nominate two students (sophomores, juniors or seniors) to participate in the HSAC for the school year.
The goals of the High School Arts Council are to:
- Engage teens in the arts.
- Bring together a diverse group of local high school students to design, implement, and market multidisciplinary arts programming for their peers in the community.
- Create an atmosphere at The Rye Arts Center in which high school students feel comfortable to express their ideas, ask questions, and explore their artistic potential outside of school curricula.
- Develop students leadership skills.
- Prepare students for twenty-first century careers in the arts and arts administration.
- Enable students to interact with professional artists.
- Provide students with service opportunities.
“Thank you so much for being able to feed my passion for the arts through this tremendous project, it has really been a journey I will never forget. Being a part of this has helped me discover so many talents I didn’t know I held…Thanks a million!”
-Jackie Ledesma, Harrison High School, HSAC Class of 2011 & 2012
The program has two core components: 1) Service Project: Each year, participants collaborate to implement a service project of their choosing, specifically designed to engage their peers and the community in the arts. 2) Speaker Series: The RAC also coordinates an intimate Speaker Series, where HSAC members have the opportunity to hear from and dialogue with professionals in arts-related careers. Past speakers include the Senior VP for Marketing at MTV; a local architect; an international model, painter, and restaurateur; and a Hollywood director.
Each participant is also responsible for completing four service hours at The Rye Arts Center during the school year, which may be applied toward school service requirements. Nominees are encouraged to volunteer together at RAC events whenever possible, to attain additional experience in arts administration.
Students who participate in the High School Arts Council are leaders in their schools and very involved in the visual, performing, theater, and/or literary arts. The program is open to students involved in any art and is not limited to visual arts. The HSAC provides an excellent opportunity for participants to gain leadership experience outside of school, collaborate with students from across the region, learn about careers in the arts, serve as liaisons between their schools and The RAC, and volunteer in their community.
- Only students who are nominated by their high schools may participate in the High School Arts Council.
- All high schools in Westchester and Fairfield Counties are invited to nominate two students to the HSAC each school year. Nominations typically occur during the months of May and June prior to the end of the school year.
- Nominations must come from a school administrator or teacher.
- Nominated students must be sophomores, juniors or seniors the year in which they participate in the program.
- Students who participated as sophomores or juniors may participate again in one subsequent year, if they are nominated by their schools.
- The Council meets approximately once a month for 1.5 hours at The Rye Arts Center in the evenings from September to May. In general, the first hour students spend planning their group service project; the last half-an-hour they hear from a guest speaker.
- The group service project will be entirely designed and conducted by Council members with funding and guidance from RAC board and staff advisors.
- Students will complete their service project outside of regular meeting hours and are expected to regularly communicate with each other via email, the RAC’s Wiki website of the High School Arts Council, or additional meetings.
- Council Members will elect officers, including a Secretary and two Board Liaisons.
- Participants will complete four service hours at The Rye Arts Center during the school year, which may be applied toward school service requirements.
Students who participated in the 2010-11 HSAC created a documentary film project that captured reactions to the question, “What do the arts mean to you?” from regional high school students. In 2009-10, HSAC members organized art supply drives in their respective high schools, then donated the supplies to the Pleasantville Cottage School, a residential high school for students who have experienced significant trauma in their lives. HSAC members then worked with Pleasantville students to make banners for their annual walk-a-thon.
For information on The Rye Arts Center’s High School Arts Council program, please contact The Rye Arts Center’s Development Coordinator at email@example.com or 914-967-0700 x25.