Summer program exposes kids to careers in the arts

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- A new summer program from the Overture Center for the Arts is letting kids test out their artistic talents with the help of professionals.

On Wednesday morning, a group of middle and high school students had the chance to test out their musical skills in a real recording studio, singing and rapping.

The students wrote the lyrics, melody and instrumentals for a single together, with the help of professional artists.

"This program allows us to look at different areas in the arts and meet with people who might be role models for us or mentors in the future," said Elijah Edwards, a student who wrote rap verses for the single.

This is the first year the Overture Center has introduced the Arts Career Exploration Spotlight program, or ACES. Organizers want to show kids art can be more than just a hobby and expose students to different parts of the industry.

"When young people are looking for careers to choose a career, we want them to know there's an art industry out there for them," said Ed Holmes, Senior Vice President of Equity and Innovation for the Overture Center.

Holmes helped design the program and has been working with the kids on their song.

"It's been incredible for me to see the eyes and the lights turn on for them when they have a new experience that they did not expect," he said.

ACES also focuses specifically on diverse groups of students, those who do not usually have the opportunity to explore the arts. Jada Ramos, an 8th grader at Wright Middle School, is one of those students.

"I've really wanted to get into arts more but it's kind of hard because I don't actually have any connections anywhere, so this is a great way for me to start and get into the community more," Ramos said.

Holmes and other organizers want to convince these kids a career in the arts is possible and support them as they pursue it.

"You build in access points and you build in pathways, so that young people know that there are jobs, there are opportunities, that Overture and the arts industry, the arts world is intended for everyone," Holmes said.

This year, students were selected for ACES based on recommendations from their schools. However, Holmes said as the program expands, he wants to open it up to more people.