Sitar Arts Center student Skye Robinson and her family reminds us that hope lives in our dreams for ourselves and the world, and the will to relentlessly pursue them no matter what.
The Robinson family loves to perform. Skye (age 14) and her two sisters (ages 10 and 17) have grown up with Sitar, immersing themselves in dance, theater, music, and acting classes at Sitar. Right now, Skye is enrolled in online Physical Acting for the fifth year, where, through improv, she learns to react, adjust, and continue in any situation. A skill we’ve all needed to practice this year!
When the pandemic hit, Skye’s mom Monica, along with 100 other parents asked Sitar to please continue their children’s arts learning. And they asked Sitar to please continue bringing us together as a community. Within two weeks, Sitar Online was up and running with daily afterschool classes – and we haven’t stopped.
For a family of four to rent a home and live modestly in Washington, DC it costs $123,000 a year. The Robinsons’ income is 1/3 that amount. But Sitar’s education is a great equalizer – every student receives the same high-quality instruction and supplies. At Sitar, Skye and her sisters can see possibilities instead of problems. Because of our generous community of support, Skye found people who believe in her and the opportunities to help her learn and grow, allowing her dreams to come reality.
When classrooms went virtual last spring, Sitar loaned the Robinsons three tablets so each daughter could be online at the same time. When Skye needed to continue practicing for her Duke Ellington School of the Arts dance classes, Sitar loaned her portable ballet bars.
This summer, Monica emailed me after her daughters attended the entirely virtual, 5-week, full-day Camp Sitar Online to share what an incredible experience they all had: “This has been a totally different year, but thank you, because you have made one more year of Sitar’s camp unforgettable – full of adventures and new experiences.”
Your gift today opens doors and provides transformational opportunities to families preparing for another uncertain year ahead. In 2021, Sitar will serve 950 students from infancy through young adulthood with enriching out-of-school time arts experiences. 80% of our students come from families with low-income and 85% are Black or Latinx. As a forward-thinking community anchor, each child at Sitar gains a community who believes in them as they experience Sitar’s continuum of support.
Over the summer, children like Skye’s younger sister Sasha were transported through their Camp Sitar Online PlayActing class. Colorful scarves became flowers in a garden, rivers in a jungle, or food to devour. Imaginations ran wild as campers created entire, magical worlds in their little boxes within Zoom, and then put them together to work as an ensemble. The result was joy, hope, and teamwork.
This is what arts education can do: open doors and allow students to see the possibilities that lie before them. Skye’s oldest sister, Scarlett, and her peers decided to move their teen leadership meeting from once to twice weekly during the pandemic. Sitar teens stay connected while working on creative projects with a social justice lens. And now Scarlett is thinking about what her future after high school looks like, and whether she could follow the footsteps of Yolanda, a Sitar alumna whose art career began in our summer musical and now is a TV writer for HBO – or Amauta, a Sitar alumnus who is now a dramaturg on a Tony-nominated Broadway play.