RAA Brings Back Summer Art Programs for Kids

 RAA Brings Back Summer Art Programs for Kids

By Katie McFadden

Summer art programming for kids is finally returning to the Rockaway Artists Alliance (RAA) studio in Fort Tilden. Kids from pre-school to age 10 can participate in weekend studio sessions or a week-long workshop and foster creativity this summer.

Like many things, Covid put an end to RAA’s summer art programing. However, it’s finally making a comeback, with different options available for children. From August 5 through August 9, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., kids ages six through 10 can participate in the Young Artists Workshop. This immersive, week-long workshop, led by experienced artists, is designed to inspire creativity and cultivate artistic talent. Throughout the week, children will explore traditional visual art media with two classes per day such as painting, drawing, printmaking and more. Children will bring their own snack and lunch but can take home their artwork. This program is $400, with discounts available for multiple children.

Then there are options for those who can’t make the week-long commitment but have time for weekend sessions. The Young Artists Studio will be open for programming for kids from pre-school to age 10. On Saturday, July 27, the class will focus on painting. Sunday, July 28 will focus on no bake, baking, where kids can make their own cookie dough. On Saturday, August 17, kids can learn about robotics and make their own robot. Finally on Sunday, August 18, there will be a lesson on clay and pottery. Those classes are for kids ages six to 10, with classes for six- to eight-year-olds from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and classes for nine to 10-year-olds from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., for $35 per session, $130 for all four, and discounts available for multiple children. For pre-schoolers (age 3-5), there will be arts, crafts and music programs on those Saturday and Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. for $15 per session. Programs are overseen by experienced artists, a counselor and assistants.

These programs are made possible by local residents Tracey Greene and Judith Wanderer, who know the benefits of engaging in art at a young age, as both were former participants in RAA’s children’s programs, who later became counselors, leading the programs. Now they’re looking forward to once again fostering the next generation of local artists.

“We grew up here and attended the RAA’s afterschool program in the early 2000s and we worked at KidSmart for about 10 years. Both of us went on to study art in college, Judith in graphic design, and I studied fine art. We credit that ability to do that to the exposure that we got when we were young through the RAA,” Greene said. Now they’re hoping to share that opportunity with more children.

Greene says Covid put a wrench in programming for the RAA, but they’re ready to start bringing it back. “After Covid, the RAA couldn’t really rebound in terms of educational programming and in general, there wasn’t much young blood to bring it back. It takes a lot of work,” she said. “But we are super excited and very honored to be able to start small and bring in back in some capacity.”

Greene says their circumstances have allowed her and Judith to operate the program. “I have my own kids now, eight-month-old boys and once I had them, I moved back to Rockaway, and Judith is working full time as a consultant, so she has flexible hours. We figured now was the time to try it,” she said. “We sent out surveys to St. Francis, P.S. 114 and Waterside to see if there was any interest and it had great results and interest.”

Greene says the art programs give kids more options besides or in addition to sports programming. “I think we’re the only non-sports camp on the peninsula for the summer. We see soccer camps and basketball and volleyball programs and now we have something for kids that maybe aren’t into sports or who want to do something different, so we’re excited to offer that,” she said. “It’s exciting to have kids back in Fort Tilden for this. It’s a special place and has been such an incredible backdrop for a lot of young creative people and young people in general, so we’re excited to get kids back in the studio and get that creativity flowing.”

In order to guarantee a spot, parents and caregivers are encouraged to register their children for the weeklong workshop and the weekend studio sessions in advance at Rockawayartistsalliance.org

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