For the 30 students in a new creative pilot program in the Lorain City Schools, arts come alive from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.
Since Jan. 30, this inaugural group of third- through fifth-graders has been transported from their elementary schools to New Beginnings Academy to receive arts instruction and education in visual arts, dance, instrumental and theater as part of the Lorain City School Arts Academy. Fine-arts professionals from the Oberlin Center for the Arts, Lorain City School fine arts staff and Oberlin College students provide the instruction. 
“The Arts Academy gives us the opportunity to embed and invest in fine arts and give the students more opportunities to express themselves through art,” says Dr. Stephen A. Sturgill, assistant superintendent of Lorain City Schools, which has contributed federal money to the program. It is also a unique opportunity to connect art professionals from around Lorain County and bring the fine arts community to Lorain City, he says. 
On Tuesday, the students may tune up for a vocal class with an Oberlin College student. On Wednesday, they may be immersed in an art class with an artist from Firelands Association for Visual Arts. Thursday, they might be channeling their inner zombie with the Mad Factory theater program. 
This 12-week after-school program is an initiative for the newly formed Oberlin Center for the Arts, which coordinates the program that leverages the talents of five arts organizations in Oberlin’s New Union Center — Firelands Association for the Visual Arts (FAVA), Mad Factory, Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra, Oberlin Choristers and Oberlin Dance Theatre — as well as collaborating with world-class students from Oberlin College, says Ron Cocco, chair of the board of OCA.
The OCA received $250,000 of seed money from the Nord Family Foundation, and part of those funds support the program that pays instructors, provides transportation and a snack and supplies a meal for all the students, Cocco says. 
“The results have been unbelievably favorable so far,” he says. “Students are not missing a session.” The hope is that this program will expand within Lorain Schools and to other districts throughout the county, Cocco adds. 
“The students have greatly benefited from this academy,” Sturgill says. “The excitement that we see when they enter the classroom and start to receive the fine-arts instruction is amazing. The group of students is very diverse and reflects the diversity of the school district, which covers 10 elementary schools. We see the value that art instruction brings to student learning, which eventually will increase other outcomes such as rise in test scores and just overall excitement in learning.” 

Why I Love the Arts 

"Arts appreciation has had an impact on me and my career. In terms of education for young people, the arts are incredibly important. The county is very diverse, and we are fortunate to have strong arts institutions such as Lorain County Community College and Oberlin College.” 
— Ron Cocco, president of Clark and Post Architects

 “It is astonishing to me that the art offerings particularly that are available in Oberlin with some of the highest-quality music programming anywhere, such as the Artist Recital Series, is basically free to anybody. That’s programming where living on the East Coast, I would have had to pay $100 for a ticket and $25 for parking. It’s free in Oberlin.”  
— John Mullaney, executive director of the Nord Family Foundation