Anyone concerned about the future of art in Kentucky probably does not know about the Governor’s School for the Arts, a three-week summer program for the state’s artistically gifted and talented young people.
More than 3,500 students have participated in the residency since its launch in 1987 by the administration of Gov. Martha Layne Collins. Next year’s session expands from eight to nine disciplines, which will give an extra 15 high-school-aged students an opportunity to challenge themselves. Total enrollment will be 241. GSA typically attracts 1,300 applicants from across the commonwealth.
Many of those accepted come from areas where they are somewhat artistically isolated. During the program , they live in college dorms together and receive instruction with a low teacher-student ratio. Faculty and staff strive for an atmosphere of mutual respect and support among students.
They study architecture, creative writing, dance, drama, instrumental music, musical theater, visual art, and vocal music. And next year a “new media” discipline will be broken out of the visual art category to allow a focus on digital imagery, video production and animation, including claymation.
School administrators are excited about the curriculum expansion, which they describe as art communication.
“In addition to preparing future actors, dancers, musicians, writers, visual artists and architects, GSA now prepares students for a career in film and the increasingly significant field of media arts,” said Heather Weston Bell, vice president of The Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts and executive director of the Governor’s School for the Arts. “The intersection of arts and technology is exciting ground, and GSA looks forward to the for the overall program.”
The program now takes place in Lexington on Transylvania University’s campus. Prior to Transylvania, which is contracted through 2008, Spalding and Bellarmine hosted GSA in Louisville.
The program maintains a ratio of one faculty member for every 10 students. GSA’s distinguished, 27-member faculty is made up of master teaching artists and practicing professional artists from Kentucky and the region.
Students who go through the program tend to return to their communities to become advocates for the arts. GSA administrators believe that’s a result of the experience of living and learning in “a community of artists” during their intensive, three-week session. The residential setting means learning and growth continue when daily classes end. Each summer’s program includes a community service day when students participate in volunteer activities in their host college’s city – Lexington currently.
Admission to the Governors School for the Arts is very competitive. In recent years there have been more than five Kentucky high school junior and senior applicants for each of the available 226 slots. Tuition, room, board and supplies cost $2,800 apiece, but all costs are covered by the state, which pays 69 percent of the budget, and generous donations from the statewide community to The Kentucky Center, which pays for the program through its endowment fund and money earned by GSA Advisory Council fundraising efforts.
Students receive and participate in technique classes, private coaching, lectures, workshops, interdisciplinary projects, ensembles, rehearsals, group critiques and master classes. Professionals visit to perform and instruct, and students take field trips to galleries, recitals and Broadway shows.
Today there are more than 3,500 alumni who hail from 119 Kentucky counties.
If you or your company want to help underwrite the GSA program, contact Meredith Erickson, vice president of development at The Kentucky Center, at (502) 562-0164 or email [email protected]
Those interested in applying for or finding out about the 2008 GSA session can do so by visiting www.kentuckygsa.org or calling (502) 562-0192. The application deadline for the 2008 GSA program is Dec. 28.