The mission of the community education program is to provide a distinctive education that will empower youth, teens and adults to embrace their artistic abilities and give them the tools to pursue a life of creativity.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM:
Watkins Community Education program sets the stage for people of all ages to learn the process of creating art in a variety of fascinating media. Classes are taught by talented practicing artists who help students gain an understanding of their chosen medium. Emphasis is placed on both the finished product and the process of thinking, designing, communicating and creating.
Young Artists are introduced to art fundamentals through drawing, painting, working with clay and other techniques. Teens learn about past and present artists while expanding upon their artistic skills. Adults have the opportunity to explore areas of specific interest, allowing their creative voice to finally be heard.HISTORY:
In 1885, the State of Tennessee received a special gift that would forever change education and the arts in Nashville: $100,000 and a parcel of land at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Church Street, Samuel Watkins, an orphan who later built a fortune in the masonry business, designated this gift in his will to build a school that would strengthen the city. The resulting school, Watkins Institute, evolved into one of the finest community-oriented education facilities in the region. For 120 years, Watkins’ role has been flexible, addressing the unmet educational needs of Nashville.
Watkins created the first public library in the city in the 1880s. At the turn of the century, in addition to offering free public education for the youth of the community, Watkins aided in the “Americanization” of immigrants, primarily from Russia and Italy as well as Jewish immigrants from a variety of Eastern European countries.
In the 30s and 40s, the Institute helped women prepare for the workplace and offered service men returning from World War II the opportunity to complete their high school education. In the 1990s, recognizing the scarcity of arts education in the community, Watkins’ Commissioners and Board of Trustees authorized the expansion of continuing education programs in fine arts and design. The Film School opened in 1995, and after receiving national accreditation in 1996, officially became a college.
Today, Watkins College of Art, Design & Film is an independent institution dedicated to providing education in the visual arts. It is held in trust by the state of Tennessee and is privately supported. In keeping with the vision of its founder, Samuel Watkins, the College believes in providing its students with a solid, practical education that prepares them for careers in the arts. It is an institution that values service to the community and seeks to be a resource for the community. In this role, Watkins offers non-degree arts education in addition to the college curriculum.
The College enrolls students from all over the United States and from foreign countries. Approximately 400 degree-seeking students attend each year and about 1000 local children, teens and adults attend the community education classes. The student body is drawn from a diverse community that includes a mixture of traditional college age students and independent, adult learners.
Mary Beth Harding
Director of Community Education
Community Education Coordinator