It’s been a long 18 months since the last time we ran student programming. When we first shut things down to ensure the safety of our community in March 2020, we thought we’d be able to get things up and running again in a few months. Then a few months became a few more, and a few more, and a few more. And while we continue to hold out hope that a return to our usual programming isn’t too far away, we’ve also had to do some real reflection about what we can do in the meantime to fulfill our mission, even as COVID remains an issue and schools remain closed to outside programming.

When we felt it was time to try to get something started again, we had to ask ourselves some key questions:

-What do we think is most important about the work we do?

-What are our core values and mission that we don’t want to compromise?

-How can we do this in a way that keeps everyone safe and healthy?

We came up with a few answers. We know that, at the end of the day, we want to give artists in Philadelphia High Schools a platform to share their gifts, their stories, and their voice, and be supported in the process. And we know that we want to pay more experienced artists – the mentors who make up the backbone of our program – for their expertise in guiding this work.

That led us to a couple of projects that we’re excited to be sharing about now. First, we spent most of the Winter and Spring shooting a series of videos featuring mentors and alumni about their approach to various parts of the songwriting process. Those videos are in editing now and we’ll be able to start sharing them soon. In addition to providing us with a valuable resource to share with young artists moving forward, these videos also allowed us to provide these artists with some funds during a pandemic that has caused a lot of performance work to disappear. We’re excited about how this project turned out and can’t wait for everyone to see.

Second, we decided this year to forego our traditional school-based program and instead offer studio time directly to any artists currently enrolled in a Philadelphia High School. These artists will have the opportunity to meet with a mentor and perfect a song, and then get 3 hours to hit the studio and record. This allows us to continue fulfilling our mission without compromising safety in a way that we feel really good about it. We’re looking at Spring 2022 for studio sessions, and hope to have some new music out soon!

Stay tuned. Much love.