Reflections on Outreach - Why is it important?

By Ana Garcia, Site & Outreach Coordinator 

It has finally arrived, my second semester of Ryman Arts! Fall 2014 was my first dive into the program as the new Site and Outreach Coordinator. Overseeing the classes daily at our Otis College location was a firsthand look at the amazing work being created by students in their studio art classes.  Thus far, this moment of meeting our talented students has been my favorite. Not only am I amazed to see talented Ryman Arts students at work, but I am also invigorated to see so many talented applicants for a new semester.

For this Spring 2015 semester, we received a record amount of 280 applicants! This is a large number considering the 139 available spots available for our new incoming students. Since I started at Ryman Arts, focusing on increasing the awareness of this full scholarship program to Title 1 schools has been one of my priorities. Throughout outreach, I met many teachers who struggle with having minimal art supplies and some working with minimal classroom space. These teachers work so hard in the classroom while also working to provide their students with alternative opportunities outside their classroom. Maintaining a strong partnership with low art funded high schools is important to have in order to foster the growth of young artists – particularly the ones who have limited access to a high quality arts education.

I have also been raising awareness of Ryman Arts through giving in-class presentations to high school students; these sessions teach students about what our program has to offer, but also presents the idea of pursuing arts as a career. I am always amazed to hear students question what a career in the arts is or what it looks like. Some questions that came up included: “How do you get paid as an artist?” and  “If I just like to draw random characters, what kind of job can I get?” Many of the students that I meet are new to the idea of pursuing the arts through higher education or as a career path. Being at these schools is always a great moment to start introducing all the jobs, careers and opportunities. I also enjoy sharing all the amazing free art programs available in Southern California and end by sharing how I wish I knew about all these art programs when I was younger!

Now with a new semester starting and a new start of outreach, I am excited to meet new candidates through classroom visits and events. So, if you know any great schools that will be great for Ryman Arts to contact or any community events, please don’t hesitate to contact me at agarcia@ryman.org.