Teen Arts Mentorship   



The Teen Arts Mentorship Program is a 20-year-old program that was initiated with a 3-year grant through the James Irvine Foundation. This arts enrichment program has offered promising teenage artists the unique opportunity to work closely with professional master artists in a studio environment. Working in small groups, students spend 10-12 weeks producing a portfolio of work to be exhibited and sold in The Arts Fund Community Gallery or performed in a public venue.

Beyond acquiring specific art-making skills and exhibition or performance experience, students are introduced to the aesthetic styles and career choices of artists in their communities. The master artists become role models and references for students as they consider advanced studies in the arts. Open to all high school students in south Santa Barbara County, admission to this program is highly competitive. An average of 85% of mentorship graduates go on to pursue advanced studies in the arts. In recent years the number of mentorship students served has nearly doubled.

Success. Having produced Teen Arts Mentorships for twenty consecutive years, our organization has an undisputed track record of success in this unique, high-impact, programming area. Teachers, students, parents and program alumnae all confirm that the mentorships deliver results:

  • High-quality instruction that produces advanced skill development that would be impossible to achieve in regular high school art classes
  • Extensive contact with professional artists who become role-models, friends, employers, and references for college and job applications
  • Exposure to university art departments and private studios
  • Resume-building public exhibition and performance opportunities
  • Introduction to producing art for revenue through The Arts Fund Community Gallery

Over 800 area high school students have benefited from this tuition-free program that addresses ongoing deficiencies in arts education by employing professional artists to provide concentrated study and resume-building exhibition and performance opportunities in venues outside traditional classrooms. The Teen Arts Mentorships serves Santa Barbara County teens ages 13-19 from public and private schools. The Arts Fund has outreached and successfully created, funded and administered mentorships to students from Santa Barbara High School, San Marcos High School, Dos Pueblos High School, Carpinteria High School, Bishop Diego, La Colina, Providence Hall, Laguna Blanca, CATE, homeschool students, and most recently added students from the Santa Maria area, which includes- Orcutt Academy High School, Righetti High School, Saint Joseph High School, and Santa Maria High School.

What others are saying...

"The Mentorship Program is a win-win situation, the kind we need more in the arts."  --Josef Woodard, SB News Press Arts Scene

"From studio setting to public display, the Mentorship Program offers young artists in Santa Barbara County extraordinary access to the artistic experience."  --CASA Magazine

"Great news Sam has been accepted to CCA San Fran for the 5 yr architectural degree!!!! He was awarded a creative arts scholarship and will be attending this fall . He was also accepted to Otis College of Art and Design with a scholarship, Savannah College or Art and Design, Arts Center Pasadena and Emily Carr Art School. We are so excited for Sam. Also to let you know quite a few of the paintings and woodcuts that he submitted in his portfolio came from the body of work he created in the Arts Mentorship Program." -- Kerrie and Sam Kilpatrick, mother and mentor student, Spring 2015

"Hi, I am Tessa Denison's father.  Tessa has been doing the photography mentorship with Joyce, and you were kind enough to find a way to fit her into this session.  I wanted to tell you that this was a transformative experience for her.  Tessa is younger that most in her group, and I greatly appreciate that she was able to get such a jump start on developing her artistic talent and expression, instead of having to wait until high school.  She essentially got what is the equivalent of an entire trimester course during this spring, and she is really inspired to continue.  She also loved the other girls in the class, and Joyce was incredibly supportive and instructive.  I can't believe their finished products -- truly amazing!

Thank you again for making this possible for Tessa. It has been one of the best experiences of her life, and I am so excited to see her so inspired." -- Paul, parent of mentorship student, Alternative Process Photography, Spring 2015

"Being able to communicate with a professional artist was an experience I never thought I would be able to have in high school, and The Arts Fund made it possible. This priceless program is a gem, and something l will always count as a major stepping stone in my creative career."       --Mary Frances Knapp, mentorship participant and Dos Pueblos High School Junior

"This class really helped Hallie express herself and realize that she is capable of so much more than what she believed she could do. We saw it in the final performance."  --Amy C. Mogee, parent of mentorship student for Theatre of lmagination

"l enjoyed learning from others and watching their techniques and styles. This program allowed me to dedicate more time and focus on my painting."  --Student evaluation, contemporary painting class

"I was part of the painting mentorship with Rafael during the spring. The mentorship experience helped clarify the importance of art in my life and was the motivation I needed to develop as an artist. I am now on the board of Youth Making Change, a teen-led grant making program through the Fund for Santa Barbara. The Arts Fund mentorship allowed me to further explore my passion for art and painting. I would like a grant to go to The Arts Fund, in hopes that more teens can have access to these opportunities."  --Sophie Maes, 2012 painting mentorship student 

"For me the mentorship was a leaming tool. It helped me grow as an artist and the art I made was more of a learning experience than anything else! It helped me refine and craft my own art, and it made possible for me to take my art to the next level."  --Lincoln Liechti,2012 printmaking and drawing mentorship student (summer) 

"The Creative Writing mentorship 'Write Out Loud' brought people with similar passion and knit us together into a very trusting and open friendship circle. The program gave me the chance to receive constructive feedback on my writing. In turn, this enabled me to discover what is provoking as a reader of meaningful literary work. The activities and prompts were wonderful and I loved hearing everyone's writing. But I must say that the way Matt and Elizabeth made our mentorship into an openminded space from the beginning is what made it so enjoyable. From the start, it was made clear that we were in a safe place, and no one was going to be judged. This allowed us to be very honest with each other."   --Rachel Scheib, 2012 creative writing mentorship student  

"Write Out Loud -the personal writing and performance mentorship we offered for the first time this year -was one of the most satisfying teaching experiences I've had. It was a delight to co-teach with my friend and colleague Matt Tavianini, who added his acting and directorial experience to my background in writing and performance. It was also a joy to have a small group of dedicated students who took real risks and pushed themselves into new creative territory. I think everyone who attended their final performance was moved and inspired by their courage, their talent, and the power of hearing them speak their truths. I'm forever grateful to The Arts Fund for its vision and support of this program, and hope we will be able to offer Write Out Loud in future years."  --Elizabeth Schwyzer, 2012 Creative Writing mentorship teacher