True Impact of the Arts: Ryman Arts

Ryman Arts began in 1990 as a single drawing class for 12 students. Today, the program has grown to accommodate 40 classes for 600 high school students annually. The aim of Ryman Arts is to provide drawing and painting classes, college and career guidance, to talented and motivated students as a bridge to a life that expresses and appreciates the arts.

A “College Day” was recently organized where students were able to meet and speak with representatives from 27 different universities including: Emily Carr University of Art & Design, Laguna College of Art & Design, and Parsons the New School for Design. Along with art classes held three hours a week, the students attend field trips where they get the opportunity to tour creative businesses and see first-hand what types of careers could be conceived from their artistic talents.

All of the classes and art supplies are provided free of charge to students and classes are held at the Otis College of Art and Design and California State University, Fullerton campuses, at no cost to the program. Since adding a second location at CSUF, Ryman has increased the number of youth served in Orange County. The fifteen employed faculty members are professional artists and a number of them teach art courses at collegiate-levels. Ryman also provides their faculty members the opportunity to apply for stipends that can be used to fund their professional development.

What has come to fruition is the lifelong impact this program has on both current and past students. Ryman  has a 95% matriculation of alumni who attend college, a large jump from the 62% college-going rate in California1, and one-third of these students end up in a career in the arts industry. Many Ryman Arts alumni return to the program as teaching assistants. Most recently, 25 alumni were asked to highlight each of their unique paths in an online and printed magazine to celebrate the program’s 25th anniversary. These stories provide readers with a peek into the myriad of potential successful careers, all with Ryman Arts as a common factor. Click here to read the “25 Ryman Arts Alumni Stories.”

In order to evolve with the ever-changing fundraising landscape, the staff has found success in trying new types of fundraising events. This includes hosting events such as intimate dinners held at various local art galleries and benefactors’ homes or art shows with part of the proceeds from each sale going to Ryman Arts. The program is also supported, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts, Los Angeles County Art Commission, the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, along with a number of private and public grants and endowments.

Ryman Arts is currently focused on The Big Draw LA as part of an international drawing celebration. The Big Draw LA creates participatory opportunities for people of all ages to have fun and discover that drawing inspires creative thinking and helps us communicate with others. After launching the inaugural The Big Draw LA in 2010, participation has more than doubled with over than 10,000 Southern Californians taking part. Ryman Arts recently held their flagship event, Make Your Mark in the Park, in Grand Park, providing booths of art activities from figure drawing, tape drawing, collaborative sculpture, and more, hosted and lead by Ryman Arts students and faculty. This event kicked off the month-long initiative where various artists and interested individuals can host art events for the public.

The deadline for students to apply for Spring semester classes is December 1. Click here to view the application.

1 National Center for Higher Education Management Systems

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