Shortcut Navigation:

Arts and Culture Public Officials Breakfast 2015

strengthening, unifying and connecting greater Cleveland's arts and culture sector

News and Events


The Power of Learning In and Through the Arts (Guest Blog by Santina Protopapa)

Ever since I can remember, music has been an important part of my life.  Playing an instrument since kindergarten empowered me to become a leader, showed me how to collaborate with others, and provided the perfect opportunity for me to develop creative problem-solving skills.  These skills play a role in every aspect of my personal and professional life. 

My passion for what learning in and through the arts provides for students was the impetus for founding Progressive Arts Alliance (PAA) in 2002. Together with a group of artists that shared my passion for dynamic arts education, we launched PAA to provide experiences for youth to which they would otherwise not have access.  PAA’s mission is to deepen the learning experience for students, educators, and artists by designing and implementing innovative, arts-integrated, project-based learning programs. Our work takes place in schools, libraries, and other community spaces. 


We launched PAA’s RHAPSODY Hip-Hop Summer Arts Camp in 2002 to give students the opportunity to learn more about the music, dance, art, and poetry of hip-hop culture.  We designed a camp experience that immerses students in daily workshops that provide sequential instruction that leads to mastery.  Students at the camp also learn more about the history of hip-hop culture and the social context from which it emerged.  Each year of the camp, students examine the inspirational story of how youth in the Bronx in the 1970s used creative self-expression to develop their own unique voice that empowered them to deal with the harsh realities of their surroundings.  Little did these teens from the Bronx know that they were launching what would become a worldwide cultural phenomenon. 

What our team has learned since 2002, is that providing a unique learning experience for students, one that uses an exciting entry point (in this case, hip-hop), provides a platform (which is also seen as an alternative for many) to develop students’ 21st century skills in addition to building their self efficacy.

The 21st century skills students take away from engaging in our program (and many other valuable arts education opportunities) are:

  • Perseverance
  • Ability to collaborate with others – especially with those different from themselves
  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking skills

In addition, the RHAPSODY Hip-Hop Summer Art Camp, and other arts and cultural programs for youth, also provide another invaluable opportunity for youth: the opportunity to develop one’s identity and unique self-expression.  By developing creative habits of mind through the arts, students also develop the confidence to be themselves. So often, when we ask students what they learned from hip-hop camp, instead of quickly mentioning specifics about one of the art forms they engaged in, we hear feedback such as “the camp taught me I can let my true colors come out.”  

Parents of students involved in the arts also recognize how these programs empower youth.  One parent from last year’s RHAPSODY Hip-Hop Summer Arts Camp explained, “My daughter is shy and this camp strengthened her self confidence and allowed her to stretch beyond her comfort zone. She is more outgoing now.”

Hear more from PAA’s RHAPSODY Hip-Hop Summer Arts Camp Instructors


This blog is used under license and was submitted by volunteer contributor Santina Protopapa, Executive Director, Progressive Arts Alliance. Learn more about PAA at their website, The opinions represented here are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CPAC. CPAC does not endorse the purchase of products or services by its guest bloggers. We thank all writers for volunteering their expertise with us in order to continue to strengthen, unify and connect greater Cleveland’s arts and culture community.

Categories: Artists, Arts and Safety, Arts Education, creative intersections, Music


comments powered by Disqus