Lórien Academy of the Arts is an onramp to confidence building for middle and high school students from low-income homes with art-based experiential programing.
By Michael J. Solender
When Mike Khoe first worked one-on-one with Charlotte-area middle school students on arts projects, he saw firsthand how development of their innate creative abilities provided them the confidence to blossom in other areas, from problem solving to communicating with others.
Khoe founded the West Charlotte-based Lórien Academy of the Arts in 2017 to expand access to art education and art experiences for middle and high school students living in low-income households. Dozens of children have accessed Lórien’s core eight-week summer arts program, art-based field trips and direct instruction from local artists and educators over the past four years.
“Each of us have creative capacity,” Khoe said. “To be able to help unlock this skill for children who don’t regularly have exposure to making art resonates with me and is work where impact is seen and experienced quite dramatically.”
An ASC Cultural Vision Grant to support Lórien Academy’s was particularly timely this past year.
“In talking with parents and students last fall,” said Khoe, “we heard an urgent need existed for kids to have safe space outside of their homes. A place where they could rest, decompress through making art, socialize, and have some structure. We launched our open studio sessions in October and it’s been so successful, it’s informed our thinking around how we’ll deliver programing going forward.”
Lórien is working on a pilot programing where the organization will bring arts experiences and education directly to students at area schools. It recently established three photo clubs and is working to bring the artistry and skills of photography to newly budding enthusiasts.
“It’s exciting for us to see our programs evolve,” said Khoe. “And provide high quality art education and art experiences to kids throughout the school year. Helping kids express and pursue their dreams is at the core of what we are all about.”
Apply for an asc Cultural Vision Grant
Mecklenburg County creative individuals and nonprofit organizations leading cultural projects that build community and increase relevance and innovation are encouraged to apply for an ASC Cultural Vision Grant. Click here to learn more and apply for the next round of grants by Wednesday, September 8, 2021 at noon.