Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County has finally moved to its own space in Bridgeport, CT after more than 30 years in the community and will expand its arts programs through a generous grant.
Though it was founded in 1977 and has been a community staple ever since, Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County was living in borrowed space (albeit gladly given) at the University of Bridgeport. This spring, though, that all changed.
"It's taken us a long time to find a space of our own," says Frank Derico, the studio's program director. "But after 30-plus years, the organization has found it's true home." At the end of April, the school moved into a two-story space at 391 East Washington Avenue in Bridgeport.
The move, combined with some recent news, has made this an exciting year for the school. In early August, Neighborhood Studios received a $20,000 grant from the Lumpkin Family Foundation, a private family foundation that supports organizations across the country in pursuing innovation and long-lasting improvements in the environment, health, education, and community access to the arts.
It's in this last category that Neighborhood Studios excels. "We're trying to act as a catalyst in children's lives, using arts to help them succeed any way they can," explains Derico. "Through the arts, we help them learn more about themselves, their world, and, for some of them, their future career."
The school pursues its mission through several noteworthy programs, including a multidisciplinary weekend arts program for children with special needs; a conservatory program for teens that want to study and pursue a career in the arts; Camp Hart, an arts-based camp for kids with special needs and their non-disabled peers; Ailey Camp, a free summer dance camp for ages 11-14; and a summer institute for blind college-bound musicians.
In its new, two-floor home, which includes two dance studios, several art and music rooms, theater rooms, a computer lab, and a performance space with stage, the school is able to provide its students with even more opportunities to learn about themselves and their world through the arts. And the school is also planning to open its doors to other programs that don't yet have their own space. "We've been able to go into other people's space when we needed to," Derico says. "We want to be able to return the favor."
For more information on Neighborhood Studios, call 203-366-3300 or visit www.nstudios.org.