The Colorado Springs Conservatory (CSC) is the Pikes Peak region’s only performing arts conservatory, offering world-class immersion studies in instrumental music, vocals, music theory, composition, theater arts, recording arts, dance, movement, history, and humanities to young people ages 3-19. CSC also enables students to apply what they’ve learned through ongoing community performances in a wide range of venues and for a wide range of audiences.
Located in downtown Colorado Springs, the Conservatory was founded in 1994 by Oberlin Conservatory and Juilliard School graduate Linda Weise, whose mission at that time was to provide a unique home for artistically-inclined high school students who were likely to pursue an education in the arts after graduating high school. As the Conservatory became better known in the community and as arts education was being cut from school budgets, more and more young people wanted to participate in CSC’s programming.
In response to demand and CSC’s conviction that all interested young people deserve the opportunity to grow creatively and personally through the arts, CSC began programming for younger students. It should be noted that the Conservatory is a ‘non-auditioned’ program. As such, any student with an interest in the arts may attend the Conservatory. This has proven to set the Conservatory apart from other such programs on a national level, in that the Colorado Springs Conservatory continues to graduate 99% of its graduating high school seniors to 100% of the colleges, conservatory, universities and trade-schools that students aspire to attain entrance. Many apply for arts related programs, however many more do not. It is shown that the CSC program affords students the opportunity to attain a ‘well-rounded’, whole student college application- one that is steeped in community arts advocacy.
In 2005, CSC expanded to serve at-risk students from Harrison School District 2. Through this innovative collaboration, Harrison School District outsources arts education to CSC. Students in the district are largely from low-income households and diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds. Only 68% of district students are proficient in reading and only 31% are proficient in math. The collaboration enables CSC and the school district to ensure that each year some 130 Head Start children, middle school children, and high school freshman can engage in classes, performances, and civic activities that increase self-awareness and self-esteem, promote depth of knowledge, enhance academic performance, build sustainable life skills, and foster community engagement.
In 2012 CSC expanded its programming once again to include a music program for young people with disabilities.
Now focused on fostering all students’ abilities to thrive and do well in their lives, CSC offers them the opportunity to discover their talents and interests through arts immersion ; come to appreciate that hard work and dedication will help them achieve their career goals; understand that a complete education (minimally high school graduation but more specifically the pursuit of higher education) is key to future success; and, through performance and other arts advocacy experiences, embrace the philosophy that community engagement is essential to living a full life.
CSC is now open all day, six days a week, and often extends its hours through to Sunday. Forty CSC instructors, all of whom are professional artists, teach the Royal Conservatory of Music curricula, participate in the choosing of performance opportunities, help students prepare for them, and mentor students in whatever ways they can. The CSC program has become a critical part of the community and region on so many levels; providing a creative outlet for so many young people that would otherwise go without, providing an unparalleled, rigorous arts immersion curricula like none other in a five state region, a unique community based program where accessibility to and by students is paramount ultimately creating contributing, creative citizens.
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