Author: Jenn Sudaria


billreagivingtues“It has been such a blessing in my life.”  “It was one of the proudest moments of my life.” “Definitely a defining moment in my life.”

When we asked graduates to tell us what Community School of the Arts’ Side By Side Apprentice Program meant to them, they sent back pages and pages of testimony.  And while each story is different, all of these young men and women agree:

This program changed their lives.

For the past 20 years, Side By Side has paired underserved teens from Knox County with professional artists in their studios for apprenticeships that can last for years.  The effects of these special mentorships go far beyond the school year.  They last a lifetime.

Through Side By Side, at-risk children bloom into poised, confident, and accomplished adults. It’s why this program— for three years running—has been named one of the top 35 arts and humanities youth programs in the nation by both the National Endowment for the Arts and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

Please take the time while it’s on your mind to help secure the future of the next generation by sponsoring a child’s arts education now.  Any amount will make a difference.  And many thanks for your friendship and support at this special time of year.

Click here to read Sharlita’s story.

Read more about Sharlita and other graduates of the Side-by-Side program here.

In Her Own Words

For the 20th anniversary of the Side By Side Visual Arts Apprentice program, we asked graduates to tell us what the program meant to them. They sent back pages and pages of testimony.  And while each story is different, all of these young men and women agree: this program changes lives.  Sharlita is one of those stories.

sharlitastorypicsIN HER OWN WORDS

Community School of the Arts is an organization that cares.  Not just about my development as an artist but my development as a person.  The School gave me a network of people that cared about what was going on outside of my projects.  My teachers were never shy about asking how my life was going and how they could offer support.

Community School of the Arts helped me realize my love for design and influenced my decision to major in architecture.  My

fondest memory was working with Clark Stewart as my Side By Side mentor: I felt so honored to be working with a real artist!  It made you feel important that he would take the time out to work with you and only you.  Another great memory was the moment when I first saw my art on the wall in Bennett Galleries!  The whole event was so classy and professional.  It’s just a great feeling to be a part of something so special when you are so young; it boosts your self-esteem and confidence like nothing else.
Community School of the Arts and Side By Side were definitely defining moments in my life.  Now I mentor a 10-year-old girl in New York who dreams of being an architect.  We often go out and sketch together around the city. I want to teach her the things that I learned; you give, and you get so much more back.  That’s the great lesson of Side By Side.  I look forward to being able someday to give the Community School of the Arts just a portion of what they’ve given to me.

Sharlita Green, Class of 2009; Hampton University, Architecture, 2013; Junior Architect, Mergal Architecture, New York, 2016

Read more about Sharlita and other graduates of the Side-by-Side program here.

Read all about us!

The Community School of the Arts is the featured nonprofit in the July/August issue of Cityview Magazine!  Writer Mark Spurlock did a wonderful job capturing the essence of our program, and photographer (and Cityview publisher) Nathan Sparks spent an entire day at Richard Jolley and Tommie Rush’s studio to bring the energy of Side/By/Side to life for Cityview readers. Click here to read this issue’s Cityview: Nonprofit Spotlight.

Side-By-Side Program May Be Headed for the White House


Senior Isaiah Mobley with Richard Jolley; this is Isaiah’s fourth year working with Jolley.

The Community School of the Arts Side-By-Side Visual Arts Apprentice Program has once again been chosen for recognition as a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Finalist by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities and its partner agencies— the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“We reviewed 301 nominations from 44 states and the District of Columbia,” wrote the four partner-group leaders to CSA Executive Director Jennifer Willard. “Your program’s selection as one of 50 finalists distinguishes it as one of the top arts- and humanities-based programs in the country.”

A national jury of arts and humanities field experts is reviewing Side-By-Side’s application for one of the awards, which will be announced by the end of June. If Side-By-Side is selected, Willard will receive a $10,000 grant and an invitation to attend the White House awards ceremony hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. The Community School of the Arts would also participate in the ninth annual NAHYP Awardee Conference, August 3-5, 2016, in Washington, D.C.

“We are so grateful for this recognition,” says Willard.  “As I look around the country at the other great programs among the finalists, and I look what our visual-artist mentors and our CSA students are accomplishing together, I truly believe that this is our year to go to Washington.”

The Side-By-Side Visual Arts Apprentice Program, now in its 20th year, pairs CSA students with professional artists in their studios for a period of four to six months each year, giving students the opportunity to witness, participate in, and experience first-hand every aspect of the creative process under the tutelage of master professionals. In many cases, these pairings result in long-term working partnerships over the course of several years.

At the end of the school year — this year from May 30 to June 3 — all apprenticeships culminate in a full-scale art exhibition, where student and professional works are displayed side-by-side at Bennett Galleries and Company. The exhibit culminates with a silent auction and reception on June 3 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. at Bennett Galleries.

The CSA is marking Side-By-Side’s 20th anniversary by launching a campaign to raise 20 scholarships ($1,500 apiece) for future students to be able to take advantage of the program. “We kick off our Twenty-for-20 Campaign at a soiree on August 25,” says Willard. “I hope–I expect–to be able to report back on what I learned at the awardee conference in DC. And then we can make our plans to take this extraordinary program to the next level.”

The students selected for Side-By-Side must be in grades 5‑12 and have a minimum of two years’ classroom instruction in the visual arts at the School before being considered.

Students are chosen for particular apprenticeships based on the degree of difficulty of each medium and the amount of time required in the studio; the age, experience, and interests of the student; and the personality, family situation, and special educational or behavioral needs of the student.

Once accepted, the student is allowed to remain in the apprentice program each year prior to graduation; in most cases, this results in long-term intensive apprenticeships with one artist.

For more information, go to