GCC Partners With International Festival of Arts and Ideas in Festival Fellows Program

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Arts and Ideas Fellowship Program is no stranger to the historically artistic city of New Haven. Now in its eighth year, the Fellowship Program is offered to gifted high school sophomores and juniors in New Haven who show an interest in fine arts. The Fellowship Program recently teamed up with Gateway Community College to provide a six-month-long intensive course, culminating with engagement in New Haven’s annual 2-week Festival in June.

The collaboration came about when the Fellowship Program contacted GCC’s Dean of Academic Affairs, Mark Kosinski. Their hope was to blend their own mission of developing the next generation of arts practitioners and audiences with Gateway’s ideals of opening its doors to all pursuing their educational goals. Dean Kosinski believed it directly fit in with Gateway’s mission, and saw it as an opportunity to further enrich the lives of high school students; providing them with real-world experience. Thus, the Arts and Ideas Fellowship course was born.

This class could not have succeeded without the help of several key players. GCC’s adjunct political science professor, Miguel Garcia acted as the institutional facilitator for the course, playing a key role in the interview process, structuring the course itself, and ensuring that it runs smoothly. Taylor Van Antwerp, GCC’s Dual Enrollment Coordinator played an imperative role in ensuring that the dual enrollment procedures were handled properly. There was no better person to teach this class than Sarah Sherban. Sarah, with an extensive background in music, is also the founder of Los Angeles’ largest music education non-profit, The Harmony Project. The project provides music classes for low-income students, following their musical journey from kindergarten through graduation. After moving to the Northeast from LA, Sarah became the Louise Endel community engagement manager for The Festival, and the rest was history.

After an interview process, thirteen artistically gifted, bright students from high schools throughout New Haven were chosen to participate in the course, which meets once a week for twenty-four weeks, providing students with four college credits. Whether it’s guest speakers, field trips, or creative writing workshops, the course objective is to give students hands-on experiences to immerse themselves in the art. Each class is laced with core teaching tools from the upcoming Arts and Ideas Festival in which the students will be participating for their final capstone project, followed by a final week of reflections.

When students were asked about what they looked forward to in the weeks to come, many answered, “the festival.” “I like the idea of putting myself into something bigger and feeling a connection to the city I live in,” said one student. Another student said, “Every field trip we go on gives me a new perspective about the arts and it’s cool to have people to look up to.” Another student added to this point saying, “In every single class, there’s a new speaker who really gets me excited. There are these experienced art professionals coming in sharing their stories and experiences, and we’re sitting here as adolescents listening to them; it gets you excited that you can grow to be something like that.”

For eight years, the Arts and Ideas Fellowship Program has enriched the minds of young arts practitioners while providing them with a sense of community and enrichment. It’s quite clear that the partnership between the Arts and Ideas Fellowship program and Gateway will be a lasting one. This is only the beginning.