The San Francisco Art Institute’s award-winning City Studio program offers underserved youth high-quality arts education in their own neighborhood, enlists youth in a long term program to gain passion for and skills in the fine arts, and assists them in developing a portfolio for a professional career in the arts and/or to possibly qualify them to apply for higher education.
The City Studio classes offered run for fourteen weeks, parallel to the public school calendar. Courses meet once a week for 2–3 hours, and are held at community and arts centers in neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area. Currently, City Studio satellites in San Francisco include The Bay View Opera House and SCRAP in the Bay View neighborhood, the Excelsior Boys & Girls Club in the Excelsior neighborhood, Galeria De La Raza and The Lab in the Mission District, and SOMArts in the South of Market neighborhood. City Studio’s Oakland is the East Bay Asian Youth Center in Central East Oakland. Courses are offered in all media; current courses include photography, filmmaking and video, electronic music and sound composition, graphic arts and design, sculpture and installation, ceramic sculpture, and authoring video games. In the Fall of 2011, City Studio partnered with the Bay Area Video Coalition and SOMArts to establish a neighborhood news studio production facility and teach a course in youth journalism, with television newscasts to be broadcast via Public Access channels.
Classes typically begin two weeks into the public school semester, and end one or two weeks before the end of the public school semester. At the end of each semester, students participate in a public exhibition of their work. In addition, upon completion of a course, students are awarded a training stipend.
City Studio also offers participating youth an opportunity for a scholarship to the San Francisco Art Institute’s PreCollege program. Upon completion of four semesters of City Studio courses, students can be eligible for a full scholarship to the San Francisco Art Institute’s summer Pre-College program, which provides courses in art and art history that qualify for five transferable college credits.
The City Studio Program, now in its tenth year, was originally made possible by support from the Walter and Elise Haas Fund. Program supporters include the National Endowment for the Arts, the Surdna Foundation, the Omnia Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, the Comer Foundation, the Wells Fargo Foundation, and Adobe Microsystems. Stanford University’s School of Education, under the auspices of their School Redesign Network Program, has cited City Studio as a national model for other educational institutions throughout the country.