Artz 4 Life!
Sometimes you can hear the distant drums beat through the air: boom-bah-bah-boom-bah-bah-boom. The beat – reminiscent of a musical performance of The Lion King – touches your very soul, and in the words of the movie’s Mufasa – encourages you to “Remember who you are.”
You may be puzzled and wonder why this African music resounds anywhere near Clearwater. Exploring the King’s Highway area, you’d find a colorfully-muraled building which houses the Artz 4 Life Academy.
ARTZ 4 Life celebrates cultural diversity by presenting the finest in performing arts to broaden the educational, social and artistic perspectives of an entire community of youth, adults and families.
The programs offered give youth opportunities to explore the Arts and develop skills they can use to express themselves in all aspects of their lives.
In fact, the youngsters who take part achieve higher educational and personal success and character-building assets, thereby increasing their effectiveness, resiliency and academic performance.
Established in 1991, the Artz 4 Life Academy is a 501C3 tax-exempt corporation as a grass roots organization to enrich lives of children and families by exposing them to the benefits of Arts infusion in every aspect of their lives. Executive Director Jai Hinson says, “For 30 years, the Academy has provided programs and activities to thousands of kids, adults and families throughout the Tampa Bay area.”
Their youth development programs provide an opportunity for children to thrive in a safe, nurturing educational environment that allows them to enhance their mental, emotional, social, physical and cognitive skills as they chart a positive course for their futures.
To view a video of the Artz 4 Life Academy, click here.
One such program – the Dundu Dole Urban African Ballet – has been in existence for 28 years. Dundu Dole (which means Life Force in Wolof Language) provides entertaining, educational workshops, lecture demonstrations and cultural arts ballets for various schools, universities, churches, hospitals, conferences, corporations and major theater house throughout the United States.
Dundu Dole has performed with and opened for artists such as Herbie Hancock, Ziggy Marley, Naomi Tutu, Kwesi M’fume, Angela Davis, Debra Cox, Kevon Edwards and many more.
The Academy also offers after-school programs, summer camps and employment programs.
Graduates of the Artz 4 Life Center have gone on to remarkable achievements:
Calvin Royal became the first African-American to solo in the American Ballet Theater.
Sir Brock Warren performed on Broadway in Ain’t Too Proud.
Samiyah Parramore – right out of college – began her life as a professional dancer at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance in Denver, Colorado.
And Brianna Reed began her career at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater where she performed as a Principal Dancer.
The community can also help. Financial support is crucial in their efforts to achieve their mission. To donate, visit https://www.artz4life.org/donate. Volunteers are also needed.
Artz 4 Life Academy
1751 Kings Highway, Clearwater, FL 33755
Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Video, photos and information courtesy of Artz 4 Life Academy