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Community School of the Arts shows hidden gems

By Zarrin Ahmed
On April 6, 2014

Friends, family, teachers and students gathered in the new bookstore at Storrs Center on Friday evening to support the Community School of the Arts during their semi-annual showcase for the spring semester. This was the first time that the school worked with the bookstore to transform the show into a fundraiser, selling the art pieces and collecting 20 percent of all sales that day, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The new bookstore has attracted visitors from all over the area, so by the time the show began at 5 p.m., there were already plenty of people lounging in the store and its café. The only difference was the display of artwork around the entire store. Along the curvature of the information desk were art pieces that featured colorful fish detailed with black ink against a blue watercolor backdrop. Pattern prints decorated a storage door, while ink drawing pagodas complete with mischievous monkeys lined the windows and the ramp heading to the café. Youthfulness filled the shelves of the store in the form of plaster fish sculptures and self portraits bordered with cardboard and macaroni spray-painted gold. In most of the sections, there were also personal best awards, given to each student for their best piece produced.
The Community School of Arts is located in the Depot Campus of UConn. When it first began 35 years ago, it was an extension of the School of Fine Arts and served as teaching grounds for graduate students. The school usually has an enrollment of between 900 to 1,100 students every year and serves the entire community. Eva Davies, the program coordinator, said that about half of its members are from Mansfield and the other half from neighboring towns. Many of the members are children and grandchildren of a lot of strong supporters of the program, namely UConn professors. Even UConn students take some of the classes offered.
The programs range from 17 weeks a semester for private lessons, which cost around $500 for 30-minute weekly lessons, to 12 weeks for group lessons, which cost approximately $300. Art is offered, including pottery, and instrumental and voice lessons are also a part of the program. There is an art show once every semester, but in the summer, they are held every week. Since the program is currently looking for a new director, summer courses aren't being offered this year.
Suzie Staubach, general manager of books at the Co-op, reached out to the school and offered the bookstore as a space for the show. Both Staubach and Davies thought it would be a good idea to bring exposure to the new bookstore, the new puppet museum, and the community art school all at once with the fundraiser.
"I think you can never get enough attention," said Davies. "We're kind of a hidden gem."
Davies said the program would love to have credit programs because "a lot of kids want to do that," where classes could be offered to students interested in the subject matter, not just those who study fine arts.

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