- Performing Arts
- Service Learning
- Visual Arts
Seniors Sharisa You and Ashlyn Hunter co-founded an organization to offer arts opportunities to students around the world. Here, the co-presidents share details.
Q: What does your program do, and who can participate?
A: Inspiring Tomorrow’s Performers (ITP) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that seeks to teach and expose students around the world to arts education, particularly those whose schools do not have the resources to teach them art. We are currently working with more than 270 students from 13 countries including Israel, Greece, Austria, England, Turkey, Canada, India, Vietnam, Germany, Lithuania, Croatia and Nigeria. Every Sunday from 11 a.m. - noon we host a performing/visual arts workshop, ranging from different styles of dance, singing, acting, music and drawing taught by our ITP leaders and guest artists from Bishops and other schools.
Q: How do participants find out about your program?
A: This program first started as an afterschool program for a KIPP school in San Jose and from there we have been able to connect with a lot of KIPP schools across the country. A huge majority of our outreach comes from us researching and emailing schools. We have also been able to spread the word through students inviting their cousins and siblings, utilizing social media, and posting our events on various event/community service platforms.
Q: What inspired you to start the program?
A: We both personally have had in-school arts classes cut in elementary school; this really was the driving motivation to form ITP. Often when schools have funding cuts, arts programs are the first to go. We recognized just how privileged we were with access to arts education outside of school after those in-school programs were cut, but many other students don’t have the same opportunities. In high school, we began to fully understand the severity in lack of arts at many primary schools in our country and across the world and felt the need to do something about this issue. [Initially], we found it difficult to fulfill our desires because there was a lack of performing and visual arts volunteer opportunities for kids our age. We saw an opportunity to bridge this gap between lack of arts education and service opportunities. From this, ITP was born.
Q: Who are the volunteers from Bishop's?
A: We have volunteers who come from all different artistic backgrounds, and even some volunteers who have no experience in the performing and visual arts. We have fellow Performing Dance Group members, Bishop’s Singers, Acting Workshop, Chamber Orchestra, Jazz Band and visual arts students who frequently volunteer. Our leadership team includes Vice President Emily Zhou ’23, Co-Directors of Outreach Ellise Lee’23 and Eliana Birnbaum-Nahl ’23, Director of Fundraising Nadia Bitar ’22, Director of Social Media Bela Gowda ’24, and Director of Graphics Mira Gowda ’22. Other club members and guest artists from Bishop’s include Ellie Hodges ’22, Sophia Gleeson’24, Isadora Blatt ’24, Lila Hampers ’24, Robert Devoe ’22, Joseph Aguilar ’22, Cami Farrell ’22, Elise Watson ’22, Haha Shi ’22, Paige Walker ’22, Clare Malhotra’22 and Niamh Malhotra ’23.
Q: What is the most important thing you would like people to know about ITP?
A: Our goal isn’t to make sure everyone who takes a class falls in love with art, although it is very exciting to see kids fall in love with an art form. Rather, through art, we hope that these students have another outlet, get to explore their own creativity, improve their confidence and help them find their own voice. On top of that, they get to meet kids from all over the world and build friendships with people who might not even speak the same language as themselves.
We are also constantly looking for more volunteers! Any middle and upper schoolers can come volunteer at a workshop or teach a class. It is super low commitment and we would love to have anyone join, whether you have extensive training in the arts or not. Please contact Sharisa or Ashlyn for more information. Check out our website itperformers.org!
- Inspiring Tomorrow's Performers