10 Summer Arts Programs You Should Know


High school artists, it may be early in the new year, but it’s not too early to start thinking about summer arts programs.

Most summer arts program application deadlines pop up in February or March and many require audition or portfolio submissions. So it’s time to get going! If you’re passionate about art, want to gain new skills and meet fellow aspiring artists, then you should check out a summer arts program. Luckily, you can find great programs throughout the country and not surprisingly, many are located on the campuses of top art colleges for that “pre-college” experience. Plus many have scholarships and financial aid available. By no means the definitive list, here are our top 10 to start your search.

1. California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA)

Whether your artistic abilities and passions lie in writing, drawing or performance art, CSSSA provides a prestigious and rigorous month-long program every summer. Open to high school students and held on the CalArts campus, this program is geared toward those who hope to pursue the arts professionally. CSSSA will celebrate its 30th year this summer, and is sure to provide an intense yet enthralling experience for those who want to learn and expand their creativity, as well as network and bond with other aspiring artists. Out of state residents may also apply.

2. Interlochen Arts Camp

One of the premiere art and music camps in the country, students from all over the world come to Interlochen to study music, theatre, visual arts, creative writing, motion picture arts, and dance. Their YouTube channel is loaded with videos about each program they offer, lots of financial aid and scholarships and working professionals to start your network are an added big plus.

3. Berklee College of Music Summer Programs

Smack dab ion the middle of Boston, at Berklee you can spend your summer making music with students from all over the world who share your passion. Study with renowned faculty who are the very best at what they do and get a taste of what Berklee, Boston, and college life are all about.

4. Idyllwild Arts

Since 1950, the Idyllwild Arts Foundation, which is known for its renowned arts training, hosts a summer program with almost 100 different workshops available. Taught by professionals, these courses are offered for everyone from elementary to high school students, and subjects range from chamber music to jewelry making, and from ceramics to playwriting. Virtually every form of arts training is available. Additionally, Idyllwild’s location is in the beautiful San Jacinto Mountains, meaning you’ll enjoy the clean mountain air while bettering your craft.

5. Otis College of Art and Design

The Summer of Art at Otis is a four-week intensive course aimed at artists who are in high school or older who want to improve their trades. Aimed mainly toward people looking to pursue art in higher institutions of art later down the road, this program balances hands-on studio work with labs and foundational lectures. Located in Los Angeles, Otis’ Summer of Art is welcoming all students, amateur or experienced, and will tailor its courses around each individual, no matter the level of expertise. And all mediums of art are taught and explored.

6. California College of the Arts

CCA’s program, located in the Bay Area, offers a one-month long program for high school students who specialize in art, architecture, creative writing or design. This Pre-College Program will help those students involved to gain crucial skills through classes and guest lectures with renowned artists, and help them to build strong and well-rounded portfolios. And as a bonus, students can even receive college credit for completing the program. And with such a cultural location, you’ll be learning even outside of the classroom setting.

7. MPulse – University of Michigan

Known for their amazing musical theatre programs, MPulse Summer Performing Arts Institutes on the Ann Arbor campus, inspire high school students to exciting new levels of excellence in music performance, music technology, musical theatre, theatre, and dance.

8. Ringling College of Art & Design

Located in Sarasota Florida, every summer, high school students from around the world come to Ringling College for an intense four-week art and design program to experience a taste of college life and earn college credit. Participants live in Ringling dorms, learn essential concepts of art and design, and get acquainted with cutting-edge, professional facilities.

9. Putney School Summer Programs

Want a true residential camp experience that is small, rural and rigorous? Check out The Putney School Summer Arts Program. For three weeks you dive into any two art forms you love or long to try. Find creative friends, learn from experts, and let your creativity loose, all on a gorgeous boarding school campus in the hills of southern Vermont.

10. Rhode Island School of Design

Not surprisingly, one of the top art schools in the country also offers one of the best summer programs. Standout teaching from some of their award-winning faculty of more than 50 artists, designers, and educators — some of whom also teach degree-program classes. There is so much to choose from in the six-week program and classes are housed in over 40 buildings, offering computer labs, darkrooms, kilns, woodworking shops, and textile and printmaking studios.

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