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Towson University

Brighter futures created because of one bright mind

It was a vision born because of one woman's love for the arts and her community. Rosalie "Penny" Potter wanted a neighborhood arts program where inner city children, who couldn't afford art lessons, could come and participate in a variety of art classes and work with professional artists at no cost. She called her vision Bright Starts.

"The principle of the program is that we're putting professional working artists in fairly intimate relationships with young people." Michelle McCallum, Bright Starts' current program director, said. "Our classes are small. We have ten or fewer students in a workshop so that the professional artist has the opportunity to work directly with them."

Bright Starts debuted in 1991, supported by the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Art and Culture. It shares residency with 33 School Art Center in Federal Hill. The program operates from October to June offering at least two workshops every month. Sessions are conducted every Saturday at two locations, which vary each month. The first session starts in the morning for seven to ten-year-olds, and the second session follows in the afternoon for 11 to 15-year-olds. All the workshops are organized and taught by professional artists.

The program offers a selection of 22 workshops. Drawing, painting, ceramics, movement, toy making, fabric stamping and dyeing, theater, drumming, and comedy writing are some of the programs that were offered during the 2002-2003 eight month session. Bright Starts also offers performing arts such as storytelling, theater, and puppets and performance.

Bright Starts has also collaborated with Enoch Pratt Free Library for Arts and Humanities month, which runs in October. Essentially, the workshops mimic the standard structure of the Bright Starts program except there are only four workshops offered and each one is at the same location.

Presently, Bright Starts is not only supported by the Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Devleopment but also by The Helen P. Denit Charitable Trust Rosemore Inc.

Students or parents who are interested in the program are only required to fill out a registration form, completely free of charge, available at the 33 School Art Center. The Bright Starts team is now preparing for Artscape in July and finishing up with their June workshops.

Related Stories

A Home for Bright Starts: 33 School Art Center is not only the headquarters for Bright Starts director Michelle McCallum and assistant Chevon Jay, it's a studio, a workshop, an office, an exhibition

Behind the Workshops: They are the staple to Bright Starts’ goals, unity and inspiration.

Dabbling in Artscape: For three days in the month of July, the city of Baltimore masses together to celebrate the love of visual and performing arts in an intricately organized event appropriately named Artscape.

Priceless Penny: Penny Potter wasted no time in developing her new program. She launched three different Bright Starts classes for one month every Saturday.