Art from the Heart

Peekskill group teams professionals with students

By Alison Rooney

Arts 10566 has no office — at least, not until next month — but last year managed to bring together 125 children and teenagers with professional artists.

The Peekskill nonprofit (10566 is the city’s ZIP code), which brings art classes to students at schools, religious institutions and community centers, will open its first administrative office on Sept. 12. It has started recruiting volunteers for the 2018-19 school year, including those from Philipstown and Beacon.

Peekskill students take part in a vocal class organized by Arts 10566. (Photo provided)

“It’s incredible to see the excitement that the kids show when they learn what the arts can do for them,” says Valerie Swan, board president.

Last year, artists offered after-school workshops in subjects such as mural-making, dance, chorus, drumming, spoken word and chorus. There’s a nascent strings program led by violinist Daisy Joplin as well; 10 students performed at a recent fundraiser on rented instruments. Earlier this year, Arts 10566 was able to bring 30 children to visit Lincoln Center.

In June, most of the students came together to perform The Concert Hall Cats at a packed Peekskill Middle School theater. Behind the scenes, visual arts students made the props and scenery and learned about lighting.

The Arts 10566 season runs from Oct. 1 through the third week of June, and artists can teach from October through January, January through June, or for the full season. Most sessions are open to a maximum of 15 students and run from 3 to 6 p.m. on different days of the week.

Students take part in a drawing exercise as part of an Arts 10566 program. (Photo provided)

Arts 10566 was formed in 2013 by Wilfredo Morel, a community organizer, advocate and artist, and Lee Balter, a patron of the arts and former chairman of the Tallix Foundry in Beacon. Its goal was to address the “lack of inclusion of low- and middle-income resident minority children in the arts.”

Funded by a small grant, the program initially served 20 children. Today it receives support from the City of Peekskill, the Peekskill Housing Authority, Family Ties of Westchester and corporate supporters, including the Peekskill Brewery, which hosted a Spring for the Arts fundraiser on Memorial Day weekend.

Artists who are interested in volunteering can visit arts10566.org. The deadline is Aug. 31. For more information, email Swan at [email protected]

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