Teachers open new Tupelo art school

BY M. SCOTT MORRIS

Daily Journal

TUPELO – A pair of Tupelo teachers have art on the brain, and they're hoping it will spread.

Kit White, an art teacher at Rankin and Pierce Street elementary schools, and Nilda Fleitas, a Spanish teacher at Carver School, have combined talents to provide summer workshops, private lessons and more.

“I think we can become a really big part of the community as far as helping the children,” Fleitas said.

The new venture is called Art & Soul, and the first art camp, “Funky Art,” will be from Tuesday to Saturday. It'll focus on a variety of mixed media projects, including tie-dye T-shirts. More than 30 kids have signed up, including five who are on scholarships.

“There are a lot of kids who would not have the option to go to art classes,” White said. “That's why it's so important for us to have the scholarships.”

Grants from CREATE and the Northeast Mississippi Youth Foundation, as well as private donations, have covered the $100 tuition for five scholarship students.

Support

CREATE also has taken Art & Soul under its nonprofit umbrella as a special program. That confers nonprofit status to Art & Soul and makes it eligible for more grants.

“We had attended a nonprofit conference and we were trying to establish ourselves as an independent nonprofit, but we realized it was a very lengthy process,” White said.

“CREATE let us get started right away,” Fleitas added, “and they do a lot of the paperwork, which is great.”

Art & Soul also owes special thanks to First Presbyterian Church of Tupelo, which has donated the use of a building on North Green Street that was previously the site of TAG, Too.

“They have donated the building, and they brought it up to code, so it could serve the community again,” White said.

Grant hunting

In addition to next week's art camp, there will be another one July 11-15 called “Be a Sculptor.”

There are plans to invite artists to the Art & Soul building to do workshops for kids and adults.

And the future will include real-world experience in writing grants as White and Fleitas search for new ways to make art lessons available to kids who want them.

“Everyone's been so helpful and so positive, and we want to keep it going,” Fleitas said. “It's all happened so fast, but we've still got work to do.”

Come see
What: Art & Soul open house
When: 10 to noon Saturday
Where: 323 N. Green St.
Info: (662) 213-8992, 231-8924
Extra: Art camps will be Tuesday through Saturday and July 11-15. Tuition is $100 for each camp, and some scholarships may be available