By Amelia Kanan, CBS Detroit Blogger

School is back in session! While this might prompt some kids to groan with thoughts of alarm clocks and homework, others are excited for the not-so-typical classes, like art.

As most know, art class, like music, wood/metal class, home economics and other extra curricular coursework, have been cut from most schools. Budgets can’t afford the staff, materials and other expenses and since these things aren’t on standardized tests, it’s not a priority in the academic world. Even things like history and social studies are taking a back seat to math and English.

Schools are focused on high test scores so they can receive as much money as possible from the government.

We all know the system is flawed and because of it, kids suffer. Not everyone’s brain is made for math but that doesn’t mean they’re not smart and that is the message schools are sending their students.

Enter the College for Creative Studies. We all know the local favorite as the go-to for a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in fine arts. However, there’s more to this institution than most think. Since its existence, CCS has stayed true to its century-old roots by being an advocate, supporter and hub for the Detroit community.

As the schools began to rid their systems of art class, which are seen as frivolous and silly by some, CCS began finding ways to compensate for the loss.

Thanks to CCS’s program called Community Arts Partnerships (CAP), a variety of art and design classes are offered for free to children and teens in the Detroit community. These courses give kids the opportunity to learn wood work, photography, painting, film, fabrics and fibers, sculpture, transportation design, animation, drawing, and graphic design by real working artist professionals.

Since 2001, CAP has taught over 30,800 students and raised awareness of the importance of art. These children also learn how their passion and talent for art can turn into an actual career: designers.

It’s not just the learning techniques, art history and artistic problem solving that these kids are taking away from these programs but they also have the chance to work on public art installations within their neighborhoods and communities. Community Public Arts Detroit (C+PAD), an affiliated program, pairs young people and community residents with working local artists.

Detroit sculptors, painters, photographers and other established artists are assigned a wall, building facade, fence, parking lot corner or location and work with a younger generation of artists to make it beautiful. These public installations are all located in six of Detroit’s neighborhoods.

The communal works of art don’t just beautify their neighborhoods but instill a sense of pride. Proof of this respect is in the art: which hasn’t been vandalized. Some works have even been enhanced.

Sure, art isn’t for everyone, but neither is math or science. Creative brains get the academic shaft but CCS has our future car designers, advertisers, graphic designers, photographers and fine artists’ best intentions at heart which is why they make are so accessible. We should applaud CCS for understanding how important this outlet is for kids and for providing our youth with options, important life lessons and most of all, opportunities.

Amelia Kanan is freelance writer/photographer and a returning native of Detroit. A graduate of Columbia College in Chicago, she wrote for an Emmy nominated sketch comedy show and pursued her passion for documentary filmmaking in Los Angeles. An incomplete list of her loves: books, human rights, improv, the smell of new shoes, talking to strangers, libraries, France, yoga, furniture, music, sociology and pushing the limits.


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