The Rye Arts Center brings seven need-based arts outreach programs to historically underserved, economically and ethnically diverse communities in our region.  We serve approximately 2,000 children, teens, and senior citizens annually.  Historically, we have focused our outreach services in Port Chester, the most financially challenged municipality in our service area, with approximately 19% of school-aged children living in poverty (U.S. Census 2010).  We are slowly integrating our programs into Mamaroneck, most notably through a new partnership with the Hispanic Resource Center in 2011.

According to research described in Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development (2002), “…the arts may be uniquely able to boost learning and achievement for young children, students from economically disadvantaged circumstances, and students needing remedial instruction.” (www.AmericansForTheArts.org). The Rye Arts Center’s Arts Outreach Programs largely serve participants who fall under this description.

The following is a description of The Rye Arts Center’s Arts Outreach Programs:

Head Start Arts Program

The RAC’s Head Start Arts Program is offered to children enrolled in Port Chester’s Head Start Program.  Young children, ages 3-5, qualify to participate on a need-basis. Approximately 170 children visit our facility weekly from October to May. Twenty-six weeks of dance, music, storytelling, mixed media, and clay instruction are offered to enhance cognitive and language development, cultivate creativity, and encourage self-expression. The program culminates with a Moving Up Ceremony in May at which time The RAC presents full scholarships for a week in our summer Creative Arts Program. 10 students are chosen who show an affinity for the arts.

Music for Seniors: MusicOutreachNow

This program was established for senior citizens at area nursing homes to enjoy live music and its therapeutic value. Three to four performances are offered each school year reaching approximately 150-200 senior residents.  The musicians are Rye Arts Center students as well as those from nearby middle and high schools. This program fulfills many goals: self-esteem of the students performing, the entertainment for the seniors, and the interaction between students and seniors. This RAC program is organized through The RAC Music School Director and RAC students in conjunction with Rye High School student volunteers. Community service hours are given to participating students.

21st Century ASPIRE Program at Port Chester High School

Classes that have been offered include group music, digital photography, fashion illustration/accessories, drumming, cartooning, and jazz/hip hop dance.  Students have an opportunity to showcase their talents during a school presentation at the end of each semester.  In addition, RAC instructors have collaborated with PCHS faculty to produce a school newsletter. This program is a federally funded program and was established as a partnership with the Port Chester School District to provide after school activities that provide academic enrichment for students “at risk”.

World Music

World Music workshops are brought to students during the school day and include an exploration of multi-cultural music through interactive songs and musical games with demonstrations on instruments indicative of each culture.  This program is offered to all kindergarten students in The Rye City School District and is sponsored by The Woman’s Club of Rye, Children’s Philanthropy.

Arts in the Afternoon

The RAC provides lessons after school in art, theater, dance and music to fifth grade classes at the JFK Magnet School in Port Chester. Participants are given an opportunity to perform what they have learned at school concerts and at The Rye Arts Center.   This program is sponsored by the Port Chester School District.

Famous Artists

The Famous Artists Program™ is designed to develop visual literacy in children in elementary and middle school. It was founded in 1986 and organized by The Rye Arts Center; it serves both public and independent schools throughout the area. The Program chairs train parent docents to give classroom presentations that enable students to experience the wonders of artistic creation and to evaluate what they see.

Famous Artists for Seniors

This program was established in 2005.  A Famous Artists trained docent brings art education workshops twice a year to senior centers in the Sound Shore region.  To date, we have outreached to approx. 75 seniors.  This program is funded by RAC Board Member, Dr. Andrew Francella.

Reel Thrills

This project started as a regular class at The RAC and was quickly offered for outreach due to its multi-disciplinary value to students. The project is to make a film. It was held at the Carver Center and offered   an opportunity for  students to work together in formulating ideas, writing a script, acting, directing and producing a 10-minute film in one week.

Specialized Arts Workshops

Learn more about the arts while exploring theme-based workshops.  The RAC has delivered workshops to schools for special event days and also presented  workshops to fulfill badge requirements to brownie and girl scout  troops.

Don Bosco Center/Port Chester NY

The RAC is very excited to partner with DBC in offering a children’s group guitar class throughout the school year. Weekly classes are offered in two groups of students, ages 8-10. A  qualified proctor is available for practice times during the week.

Hispanic Resource Center

The Rye Arts Center Partners with The Hispanic Resource Center (HRC) in Mamaroneck to connect immigrant families to the arts.  Currently, 30 students from the HRC are taking a 4-week digital photography course in our new Mac-equipped Digital Arts Lab, upgraded in January 2011. The Rye Arts Center’s new Digital Arts Lab would not have been possible without the support of Kelly & Jonathan Grayer, whose generosity has made our lab a reality, along with The Kaminer Family, The Sandling Family, and The Stack Family.