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Arts Center Outreach Programs Expanded

Great Neck Arts Center outreach programs, bringing the arts to underserved public schools in the region, will be greatly expanded to reach thousands of additional students this fall when ArtReach, the outreach program of Friends of the Arts, is incorporated into Arts Center programs.

The expanded Great Neck Arts Center program, now to also be called ArtReach, will bring the arts to a school in Glen Cove, two schools in North Babylon, five schools in Port Washington, four schools in Roosevelt and a school in Uniondale. Arts Center outreach programs have already been operating in Westbury and at Junior High School 185 in Queens. Plans call for the program to be expanded to still more school districts, following the securing of additional funding from corporate sponsors and private foundations.

Joining the Arts Center staff to administer the expanded program is Susan Ruth Cohen, the newly appointed Arts Center director of education and outreach, who will oversee implementation and growth of ArtReach. She will be responsible for the hiring of teaching artists, continuous evaluation of the program, providing study guides for the participating schools and serving as the Arts Center’s liaison with the participating school districts.

Ms. Cohen has more than 25 years of experience in arts education as an artist, teaching artist, and New York State-certified art teacher and arts administrator. Most recently, she served as director of arts education for

Friends of the Arts, where she worked in partnership with schools and community organizations throughout Long Island to implement innovative arts-in-education initiatives.

She previously had served as project director of the Arts Education Partnership for After School and Alternative Programs at the Tilles Center. Ms. Cohen is a visual artist whose works have been exhibited in numerous group and solo shows from Maine to Hawaii. She also has a background in dance, having studied at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and the Martha Graham Dance School.

“I admire the work that she has done at Friends of the Arts,” said Arts Center Executive Director Regina Gil. “When she reached out to me to see if there could be some way of saving the program that she facilitated at Friends of the Arts, I was immediately interested. After meeting her, I became convinced that she would be a great asset to the Great Neck Arts Center outreach programs and the School for the Arts. I am happy to welcome her.”

Since its inception in 1972, the goal of Friends of the Arts had been “to make the arts a part of every child’s life.” Ms. Cohen said “ArtReach projects provide opportunities for students to experience the arts and work with professional artists, while developing creative and critical thinking skills. Offerings support and enhance literacy learning and foster a lifelong passion for the arts.” At each school, the signature ArtReach project, called Jazz Sampler, helps develop a sense of community as students, teachers and parents all participate in culminating events that showcase the students’ artwork and performances. The Jazz Sampler project is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding comes from participating school districts as well as private and corporate sources.

Other Friends of the Arts outreach programs, including an Intergenerational Project that brings elders and youth together through the arts, and a program called Literacy Through the Arts that integrates music, drama, dance and visual and literacy arts with classroom learning in all subjects, are also being brought to the Arts Center.

“It is very gratifying to witness the excitement that our arts-in-education programming has generated within each school community,” Ms. Cohen said. “I am continuously touched by the power of our various projects to unite students, teachers, parents and community members in the creative process of learning through the arts. I look forward to working with the team at the Great Neck Arts Center to ensure that these vital programs continue to develop and flourish.”

The Great Neck Arts Center is located at 113 Middle Neck Road, in a major, state –of-the-art facility in Great Neck Plaza. Further information about Arts Center programs is available by calling 829-2570.