Students Give Brooklyn's Arts Scene an A+

March 2, 2012

Peter Jay Sharp Fellows with performers at the Mark Morris Dance Group

A Report Card for Our Peter Jay Sharp Fellowship

It’s a big week for Brooklyn students. Youngsters’ parents submitted their applications for kindergarten assignments; eighth graders found out which high school they’ll be attending next year; and high school seniors started to get those much-anticipated college letters. At the Brooklyn Community Foundation, we’re also feeling the excitement—and a twinge of sadness—as we near the close of our first year with the Peter Jay Sharp Youth Arts Fellows.

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Seeded by a gift to the Community Foundation from the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, the fellowship has given us a special opportunity to celebrate young artists through our Arts for All Fund.

Over the school year, we’ve accompanied ten incredibly talented teenagers from across Brooklyn as they’ve gained unprecedented
insight and access into Brooklyn’s vibrant and deeply-rooted arts scene at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Mark Morris Dance Group, and Brooklyn College’s School of Visual, Media and Performing Arts. They’ve met with performers, directors, conductors, professors, and executive directors—all of whom have generously given their time to help the next generation of Brooklyn artists discover their calling and navigate the road to success.

“My experiences [as a Peter Jay Sharp Fellow] have opened me up to new ideas and outlets for the arts all around Brooklyn. It has given me a new appreciation for my hometown and has exposed me to great venues and environments for the arts. I'm thankful for the chance to participate.”
- Will Suarez of Bath Beach, Senior at Brooklyn Tech,
Nominated by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus in the Specialty of Vocal Performance
Above: Fellows take in a rehearsal of the Brooklyn College Orchestra, followed by pizza and conversation with School of Visual, Media and Performing Arts Dean Maria Ann Conelli.

“The best part of the fellowship for me has been the privilege of getting to know other like-minded, arts focused teens from Brooklyn.  It has also been fun exploring different art venues in my beloved Brooklyn.”
- Anna Vomacka of South Park Slope, Senior at Beacon High School, Nominated by Brooklyn Arts Exchange in the Specialty of Dance

Above: Fellows practice movement exercises with performers from the Mark Morris Dance Group; a group photo with Brooklyn Community Foundation President Marilyn Gelber and Senior Program Officer Stuart Post before a visit to the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The fellows were chosen from nominations submitted by Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy, Groundswell Community Mural Project, Covenant Ballet Theatre, Brooklyn-Queens Conservatory of Music, Brooklyn Museum, STREB, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Dancewave, Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, and Brooklyn Arts Exchange—nonprofit organizations with exemplary programs dedicated to serving Brooklyn’s young people. As part of the fellowship award, each received $2,500 toward scholarships for their young students.

“I have learned so many new things and made terrific new friends. My favorite part was probably the visit to the Mark Morris Center, where I was astonished by the dancers' athleticism and artistry. This program has opened my eyes to the diverse artistic community in Brooklyn and has made me appreciate all the different art forms even more.”
- Tanya Kamenskaya of Brighton Beach, 10th Grader at Leon M. Goldstein High School, Nominated by Covenant Ballet Theatre in the Specialty of Dance

The next and final stop for this year’s cohort is the Brooklyn Museum for a Q&A with Director Arnold Lehman, followed by a curator-led tour of Keith Haring: 1978–1982, the first large-scale exhibition to explore the early career of one of the best-known American artists of the twentieth century. It’s another invaluable opportunity we’re thrilled to facilitate and we’re certain our students will never forget!


What's Happening Across Brooklyn

Here are a few highlights of news and events we’ve shared with our followers this week. Don’t miss a thing! Like us at and follow us at

Making Brooklyn Bloom at BBG
Join us for Brooklyn Botanic Garden's annual community gardening conference on Saturday, March 10th from 10am to 4pm in the Palm House. This year's theme is "Think Global, Grow Local: What’s Next for Urban Gardeners?"  The free event features exhibits and workshops on the cutting edge of sustainable urban gardening—from growing food on roofs and windowsills to reducing your garden’s carbon footprint. No preregistration is required, but you must arrive at 10 a.m. to register for the day’s workshops.

PBS NewsHour Features Arts for All Fund Grantee
Be sure to view the recent segment on the Harmony Program, which provides free instruments and daily music lessons to children in third through sixth grades. Over the past two years, we've given the music education program $30,000 to support daily afterschool and Saturday instruction at PS 152 in Midwood by students and alumni of the Brooklyn College Conservatory. Watch it here.

d8ea9e47-2cb7-465f-8b81-e18e33a90dad_jcliff_webCelebrate Brooklyn! Line-Up News!
Our Arts for All Fund grantee partner BRIC Arts | Media | Bklyn revealed two shows from the free summer schedule this week: opening night on June 5th with the legendary Jimmy Cliff, and an evening with British folk singer/songwriter Laura Marling on June 14th. Stay tuned for more dates and artists!

Build a Better Brooklyn
Please take a moment to cast your vote for Brooklyn Community Foundation in Bay Ridge Toyota's Build a Better Brooklyn Facebook contest. The dealership will give the winning charity a percentage of the proceeds from every car sold during the first quarter of this year. Vote here!