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Ryman Arts Brings Its Youth Art Program to CSUF

Advanced art instruction will be free to area high-schoolers considering a future in art

Dec. 11, 2012

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A student creates a work of art.

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Ryman Arts, an arts education program that fosters the development of talented young artists throughout Southern California, is collaborating with Cal State Fullerton to expand its Los Angeles-based program into the Orange County region.

Ryman Arts offers free, advanced studio art instruction to artistic high school students who are serious about a future in art. In addition to the rigorous drawing and painting classes taught by professional artists, students explore career paths, share their work in the community, and are inspired to build the skills, discipline and confidence for college and beyond.

Beginning in January, Orange County Ryman Arts classes will be offered at the arts studios of the CSUF College of the Arts.

"Ryman Arts provides high school students with 12-week courses, completely free of charge, on weekends. Students attend in addition to their regular high school classes," said Diane Brigham, executive director of Ryman Arts.

"The partnership CSUF has created with Ryman Arts adds a new important layer to the University's commitment to community outreach in the arts," said College of the Arts Dean Joe Arnold. "This experience also will build a pathway to higher education for participating students, some of whom may wish to continue their studies at CSUF when they reach the college level.

"The partnership also will allow Ryman Arts students to take advantage of CSUF's dynamic Grand Central Art Center, which provides opportunities for community arts engagement and outreach," Arnold added. "Ryman Arts is a strong partner, as we can provide them with the benefits of our offerings, while the Ryman Arts students simultaneously add a layer to the rich arts community we are creating here."

According to Brigham, "approximately 10 percent of our current students come from Orange County to our existing classes at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. With this initiative, we double our capacity from 300 to 600 a year, and can serve young artists from a much wider geographic area, making the program more accessible to many more talented high school artists across Southern California.

"We know how powerful the creative learning environment has been for our teens at Otis College of Art and Design, and we are delighted that we now can offer classes at both an independent college of art and design, and at a public university with a major art school," she added.

Ryman Arts President Marty Sklar, retired creative leader of Walt Disney Imagineering and one of six founders of the program, noted how pleased the program's namesake would be at the expansion into Orange County.

"Herb Ryman drew the first overall illustration of Disneyland for Walt Disney. Herb mentored many young artists, stressing the need to develop fundamental drawing and painting skills. That's what we stress at Ryman Arts," Sklar said.

Because Ryman Arts is focused on providing education to the most talented, regardless of their economic situation, the program is offered tuition-free. Outreach activities to students in lower-income communities help ensure access for students with the greatest need.

The Ryman Arts Board of Directors and other donors have raised nearly half of the organization's current $1.5 million funding campaign, including a challenge pledge of $500,000.

"We are reaching out to members of the Southern California community, and particularly to those in Orange County, who may be able to assist us with this vital program for gifted teens," Brigham noted.

"Based on the generosity of our donors, we will be able to fill the gap left by the decline in high school art programs," she said. "Further, we produce a stunning success in which more than 80 percent of our students come from low-income families, and more than 98 percent of them go on to higher education. For many of these students, they are the first in their family to do so."

With this expansion, Ryman Arts creates a college-going atmosphere with its weekend classes being offered on the campuses of two institutions of higher education: the new location at Cal State Fullerton on Saturdays, and the continuing location at Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles on Sundays. The same program is offered at both sites; students choose the location and weekend day best for them. Admission to this free program is competitive, based on merit, and any high school student may apply. The next deadline is Friday, Dec. 14; applications are available at

Since its inception in 1990, Ryman Arts has engaged over 4,000 Southern California teens in its core 18-month studio program. This vibrant community of culturally diverse teens comes from over 100 neighborhoods across the region. Ryman Arts also spearheads the public drawing initiative, "The Big Draw LA," to engage the community in participatory drawing activities every October. In its two decades, Ryman Arts has evolved into a national model for transforming the lives and futures of young artists. A nonprofit organization, Ryman Arts is funded by individuals, foundations, corporate supporters and government agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts. More information is available at or 213-629-2787.

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