Article by Gladys Garcia, Danielle Solich and Jose Alvarez
Not many people have the bragging rights to say that they have met one of their idols, let alone been able to put their name down on their résumé — unless they have been a Summer Arts student.
“It’s like someone handing you something on a silver platter that’s worth 15 grand in L.A.,” Dr. Benjamin Boone said, a Fresno State music professor and Summer Arts course coordinator.
The Summer Arts program is a rigorous two-week, multi-disciplinary course designed to give students the opportunity to work side-by-side with award-winning professionals in the art industry. The program provides students with the opportunity to perfect their talents in: theater, music, visual arts, writing, new media or a combination of any two courses — all while earning three units per course.
Getting accepted is a competitive process. A course coordinator, a CSU faculty member, specializing in that form of art, oversees each course and they are the ones that set the rules.
“Each of our courses has a course coordinator; this is the person who has put the class together,” Jackie Doumanian, the Summer Arts community relations specialist, said. “They’re the liaison between our program and the guest artists coming in, and they are also the ones that decide who gets into the class.”
The qualifications and experience required for each program varies, but most require some genuine understanding of the particular art form. Otherwise it would be extremely difficult for the student to keep up with the professionals.
“The way that I’m handling the application is [by giving] preferential treatment to Fresno State music majors,” Boone said.
Boone also is in charge of the jazz and composition courses this summer.
Students who are interested in either one of those two courses have to be proficient in composition or jazz depending on what course they want to be a part of.
The intensive schedule is another reason why this program isn’t designed for beginners. Workshops usually run 12-14 hours per day and into the weekends, which is why the enrollment process also requires submissions of actual work.
“Each course has specific requirements, [digital media] students have to submit 10 to 20 digital images of their work, theater students have to submit headshots and music students have to submit CDs of their work etcetera,” Doumanian said.
Former Summer Arts writing student Armen Bacon said the application process is very rigorous.
“I think the main prerequisite is an unwavering passion and desire to experiment and to grow in the content area of the class,” Bacon said. “Remember these are world-class instructors that are all converging in one place. The instructors want to see applications that demonstrate creativity, commitment, talent of course, but also the willingness to work and explore like a maniac.”
Regardless of the range of prerequisites, students are still encouraged to apply if they feel confident about their talent and have some experience.
“No one should [be discouraged] because they think they aren’t good enough,” Bacon said. “The classes generally welcome students with a diverse range of gifts and abilities; at least that [was] my experience.”
Former Summer Arts dance student Amber Allred said the program doesn’t expect students to be at a certain level.
“They don’t dumb it down either which I like,” Allred said. “They basically tailor themselves to each individual person.”