Art is the only way to run away without leaving home. ~Twyla Tharp
Pratt Fine Arts Center, in Seattle, is creating a place where many kids can step away from home for a creative adventure unlike any they have ever experienced.
Pratt is offering free art classes to hundreds of kids who could otherwise not afford the “luxury” of the arts. Kids, kids of all stripes, some economically challenged, some behaviorally or developmentally challenged are all welcome to broaden their perspective, for free.
Pratt’s Youth Art Works Program offers kids in grades K-12 “experimental arts education” in glass art (fusing, flameworking, glassblowing), painting, drawing, bookbinding, printmaking, sculpture and more.
For more than 35 years Pratt has been offering, to more than 3,500 students a year, a unique facility where they can cast bronze, make jewelry, pour or blow glass just for the joy of creating art. More than 500 artists a year share their expertise and enthusiasm to collections of open spirits who have walked in the doors to create something new and different from their daily experiences at home or in school.
Because of draconian budget cuts many kids in public, and some private schools, are no longer getting the opportunity to stretch their hearts and minds in the creative pleasure of “creating art.”
Pratt has found a way to ameliorate this challenge in their immediate neighborhood. Kids from partnering Washington Middle School, the Chinese Information and Service Center, the Seattle Urban League have flocked to weekend and after school programs that offer a world far away from home.
Myra Kaha, Pratt’s Youth & Education Associate, is taking art on the road. She is sharing various disciplines with teachers and kids, in their classrooms, to educate and offer the unique facilities at Pratt to all, regardless of experiences or skills.
Over 650 kids last year took advantage of the Saturday Classes, ARTSpark, Mural Projects and the “Teen Programming” camp. Each class offers instruction in the particular discipline as well as teaching strategy, cooperation, safety, tool usage and safety, care of light industrial machines, perspective, colors, themes, and story telling for those kids interested in creating comics.
In the early ‘80’s, when the local economy was on the ropes Pratt was scheduled to be striped out of the Parks Department and closed.
Stanley Kramer, the great producer-director of some of America’s greatest films, joined others willing to take on the city fathers in order to keep Pratt open. Though Kramer’s primary focus was on a number of theaters that were going to be shuttered he knew the connectedness of the arts and the important role one played on another. His speaking at City Council meetings combined with his strong written voice helped to keep Pratt open for our young kids to enjoy today.
Pratt is not just an art facility. It is an extension of the community it serves, the Central District of Seattle, a hodgepodge of nationalities and economically mixed families and small businesses all trying to create a better place for their families.
The Fine Arts Center is named in honor of Edwin T. Pratt. He was the Executive Director of the Seattle Urban League until unknown assailants gunned him down at his home, in Shoreline. No one ever proved the killing was racial motivated, though in 1969 a lot of proof was not necessary to fuel unrest. The City of Seattle negotiated with various local businesses to ultimately create the little park and facility where Pratt Fine Arts stands today.
Perhaps Michelle Bufano, Executive Director, says it best. “…Pratt’s youth programming offers opportunities for students to build positive relationships and experience security, acceptance, independence, achievement, and recognition, forming the foundation for healthy young people…”
And all this for free to the hundreds of kids, clamoring at the doors!
Free doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost a lot of money to sustain this generous program. It is expensive, consuming a large part of Pratt’s operating budget.
Pratt is doing its part to educate our kids!
If you want further information, or want to make a donation to “shore up the arts” for our kids contact: Michelle Bufano, Executive Director or Myra Kaha, Youth and Education Associate.
Pratt’s phone number is 206-328-2200 Website www.pratt.org