Calling all creative teens in New York City: TriBeCa might be your new favorite hangout spot. Church Street School for Music and Art has launched 7eventytwo, a rare haven for 13-18 year olds that aims to be the perfect outlet for your inner rock star, Picasso or Oscar winner.
At 7eventytwo, teens will be able learn from the neighborhood’s esteemed artists at workshops that span the gamut from “Music Video Production” to “Gif Making, Flipbooks and Zoetropes”—a crash course on storytelling through traditional and modern mediums—to “Fibers,” which explores the art of sculpture through filament.
Although New York City is widely considered the arts and entertainment capital of the world, you’d actually be hard-pressed to find abundant arts programs at public schools, let alone teachers with the passion necessary to shepherd them.
As one of the program’s directors, Azikiwe Mohammed feels that it was imperative that aspiring young artists and musicians in the bustling city be given a place of their own.
“This is special, especially because it’s in the Downtown area,” Mohammed said, who added that at a certain age, pickings for arts programs are slim. “In most of New York, as soon as you turn 12, you find yourself stuck with nothing to do. [7eventytwo] is a space where these lost souls could hang out and be productive.”
But rest assured, this program is not to be confused with your typical, generic marching band and chorus classes in high school. Here, the students call the shots.
“We make our programs based on what kids want, not what adults think they should want,” Mohammed said. He believed that only by engaging first-hand in art can students better their craft and carry it out to their fullest potential.
Mohammed, along with fellow program directors Z Behl and Gaia Filicori, have worked tirelessly to develop the program’s unique classes, co-ordinate show nights with young bands and conceive its ever-changing repertoire of special events.
Classes officially begin on March 6, but until then, participants are privy to a cornucopia of events tailored to their interests. The program is primarily focused on the music and arts and highlights concerts featuring local bands and Church Street students. It is also hosting a film series showcasing movies made by young adult filmmakers from around the city.
February 10’s “Valentines Blow Your Minds” treated members to four popular bands from the area including “Claire’s Diary” and “The Indecent,” while films by local directors were projected overhead.
Two of 7eventytwo’s film makers have already won awards at Sundance: Benh Zeitllin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild took the Grand Jury Prize, while Josh Safdie won Best Short for Black Balloon. In addition, an HBO series by TriBeCa native Lena Dunham is set to air in April. Going forth, the program is planning to screen more films made by teens and local community members.
Having taught at Church Street School for Music and Art for 12 years, Mohammed lauded how accommodating the institution has been in fostering the program’s mission and ongoing development, and said that pitching the idea of 7eventytwo to the school’s director, Lisa Ecklund-Flores was a breeze.
“It’s an extension of Church Street School for Music and Art and also it’s kind of on its own,” Mohammed said. “They have a great theater space, and it was being underused, so they gave us the space. I can’t think of Church Street School for Music and Art without 7eventytwo.”
Since its beginnings in 1990, Church Street School for Music and Art has been dedicated to promoting arts education for students of all ages and levels of ability, and it’s the only not-for-profit school for the arts in Lower Manhattan.
Thus far, 7eventytwo’s curators have been pleased to note that their program has garnered rave reviews from the TriBeCa community.
“We have received overwhelming support,” Mohammed said. “People agree that there has been no home for 13-18 year olds. Let’s say there’s someone out there who’s thinking, ‘Man, I’ve always wanted a place where friends could come and see me play my music.’ Now there’s a space for them to do that—their space.”
Membership at 7eventytwo is $400, and allows for unlimited access to monthly concerts, film screenings, and rehearsal space each semester. Non–members may attend events for $8 at the door. For more information, visit 7eventytwo.org. You can find out more about Church Street School for Music and Art at ChurchStreetSchool.org.