…the full Spectrum ‘It couldn’t be any more important than it is’ 50 children show off five weeks of talent

Published 12:35 pm Friday, July 8, 2011

The free youth art program Spectrum officially closed Thursday night as a success, and organizers are hoping it will be back next year.

“That’s according to if we have the funds,” said Annette Kirklin, executive director of the Southern Cultural Heritage Center, the program’s sponsor. “We have to have the funds because it’s a very expensive program. It was worth every single penny, but it’s just about trying to find the funds.”

The entire cost of the program, open to children 10 to 16, was about $25,600 and covered supplies and pay for teachers and assistants.

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Beginning May 31 and ending a week ago, the program was funded through a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and in-kind matches from the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation and local businesses.

Multiple local businesses donated gift cards toward the purchase of supplies, and more than 50 volunteers from the community helped.

Kirklin said she is already looking at other funding sources to bring the program back next summer.

On Thursday night, about 50 children showed off their art creations from the five-week program.

“Spectrum encouraged the children to strive for excellence through the varied aspects of the arts,” Kirklin said. “It couldn’t be any more important than it is. The kids are in a center where they are learning all of these things that they’ve never done before.”

The program focused on five areas — photography, writing, art, music and drama.

Students were taught in each area by industry professionals from the community, Kirklin said.

“The program is important because it instills a sense of what the arts are for a lot of kids who aren’t exposed to the arts,” said Olivia Foshee, program instructor and Vicksburg Junior High Spanish teacher. “Hopefully, they’ll remember this for a long time.”

“It’s a very expensive program,” she said, “and it’s been worth every single penny.”

Thursday night’s showcase featured four plays written and performed by students and a mini concert by the program’s choir, The Cultural Connectors.

In addition to writing and performing their plays, students directed their own play, designed their own costumes and built their own props.

“We kind of used our own real-life experiences,” said 11-year-old Tyzaih Williams, who co-wrote the play “Friends in the End” with fellow student Warner Buxton. “I like the creative part of writing.”

Tyzaih, the son of Lekeisha and Tony Williams, won the best script award for the play, which is about anti-bullying. Warner was not present Thursday.

Eleven-year-old Rachel Coleman discovered a new art technique during the program.

“The best thing I’ve learned is how to draw people because I usually just draw the stick versions,” she said.

Rachel, the daughter of Connie and Richard Coleman, performed in a play called “Hobby Decisions,” written by 11-year-old Anna Lance and 12-year-old Michaela Lambert.

Anna is the daughter of Christina and Richard Lance and Michaela is the daughter of Johnna and John Lambert.

Artworks were displayed at the center’s auditorium and will remain up for public viewing through Sept. 30.