A new performing arts school in Cartersville hopes to usher in an artistic rebirth in Bartow County.
The School of Creative Arts (SCA), a ministry of Expedition Church Cartersville, began offering drama, voice and recording-studio classes at the church for middle school through college-age students in April to help young people develop their God-given talents.
“Our vision at SCA is to educate, train and empower young artists to influence their culture and to bring an artistic renaissance to the Christian community,” Founder/Director Chas Childers said, noting the “vision and groundwork” began three years ago, and the school board met last December for the first time. “It’s our hope we will empower a student as an artist and person to be all that God created them to be.”
Childers, who has been involved in artistic endeavors “most of my life as a professional musician, producer or writer,” said he has seen through the years how the arts impact people’s lives.
“I simply wanted to help young artists develop in their craft and character as well as understand the business and spiritual side of the arts and how they can use their talent to make a difference,” he said.
More than 50 students are involved in this session’s four classes: drama/theater on Mondays and Thursdays, vocal performance and vocal coaching on Tuesdays and recording studio (taught at The Sound Planet Recording Studio in Acworth) on Saturdays.
“The school is off to a great start,” Childers said. “I’m very excited. We have great instructors, parents and students. Expedition Church has provided an excellent facility for classes and performances. The [SCA] board is supportive, and we see very good growth in the skill levels of our students.”
So far, Childers has brought in more than a dozen instructors to develop and teach quarterly classes at the center.
“Our desire is provide high-level instructors for students,” he said. “These instructors can give insights to the business side of the arts as well as excellent training in their craft. Many of our instructors are also professionals in their field or either instructors with years of teaching under their belt. As an example, Gee Gee Harbour will be teaching music production. Gee Gee is an award-winning writer, producer, composer for many TV shows and movies such as ‘The Proud Family,’ ‘Soul Food,’ ‘The King of Queens,’ ‘The Way We Do It,’ ‘Moesha’ and many more.”
Harbour said he joined SCA “to teach the kids.”
“A lot of kids don’t have the equipment, and they don’t have the knowledge, and I’ve been doing this for over 30 years, and I have to give,” he said, noting he’s the only one in the area teaching music production.
Classes are going “pretty good,” though most of the work has been preparation so far.
“Actually, they’re not fully started yet, but the preparations for the classes are going excellent,” he said.
Harbour said he will be teaching his students about digital audio workstations (DAW), the fundamentals of producing and the “ins-and-outs” of the music business.
“A lot of kids have perceptions of the music business that aren’t accurate, and I’m just here to kind of set everything straight,” the Douglasville resident said. “... There’s way more responsibility to being a producer than a lot of kids think, and I just want them to know the correct information.”
Bobby DeHart of Cartersville, who will begin teaching guitar in October, said Childers is the reason he came to the center to teach.
“I met Chas, and I just like him as a person, and his ideas seem to match up really well with what I want to do,” he said, noting he’s been teaching for 20 years. “I like the whole idea of what he’s trying to put together as a school, a place where people can not only learn but perform. I’ve been looking to do something like that for a long time actually.”
DeHart, who hopes to schedule 40 private lessons a week, said he wants to teach closer to home.
“I teach at a facility in Rome currently two days a week, and I’m looking to kind of branch out,” he said. “ ... I’ve lived in Cartersville for 15 years and haven’t taught in Cartersville.”
The center also has partnered with Act One, whose instructors provide theater and drama training for students.
“They have years of experience directing, training and providing quality shows in the north Georgia area,” Childers said, noting the troupe uses the church for its show rehearsals.
While the center isn’t offering drama classes yet, Childers refers students who want to take acting lessons to Act One.
“As Chas gets more people interested in drama, he gives them our phone number, and we get them involved, get them on stage,” Co-Director Bob Whaley said. “We do a lot of training during the actual production process. ... We train from the ground up. We teach you all the basics so if you’ve never been on stage before, we’ll teach you.”
Whaley said Childers’ vision for SCA is similar to his theater company’s vision — a collaborative effort among community arts organizations.
“We [Kristy Montgomery and I] had, years ago, the idea that we need to work with other groups,” the Cartersville resident said. “If everyone works together, everyone can do cooler things. ... Chas said that their vision for Expedition was as a central hub for the arts in Cartersville, which is exactly what we want. We want people to be able to come to one place, and everyone do something.”
Ashton Cole, 18, who is a member of Act One, is taking voice lessons from Childers.
“... He seemed really nice and like he’d be fun to work with, and he works with the kids on paying and stuff,” the Cartersville resident said. “I come from a low-income family, and so this was like the perfect opportunity. I love it. It’s so much fun.”
Cole, who started her lessons about two months ago, said she will consider taking other classes in the future.
“Honestly, I didn’t realize that there were other classes, but now that I know about that, I’m going to look into it and see if there are any that I would be interested in,” she said.
Brandon Isnetto, 16, of Acworth is taking singing lessons at SCA to “better myself and get to know people and do [stuff] out of the box.”
“This is something a little bit new,” the North Cobb High School junior said. “It’s really fun, like really fun.”
Four sessions will be conducted each year: January to March, April to June, July to September and October to December.
Classes for the next session, which starts Oct 1, will be scheduled Monday through Saturday, and offerings will include guitar classes and private lessons, bass guitar, music production, drums/percussion, recording engineering, Rock School, brass and reed instruments, piano, drama, vocal performance, group performance classes and private lessons in voice coaching and modern keyboard.
The center also is developing a children’s music division as well as adult Rock School classes.
Most classes and private lessons are $25 to $35 per lesson, but students may audition and apply for scholarships.
“We do not want to turn any student away who has a desire to learn and work hard,” Childers said.
Registration for the new quarter is open and will run through Sept. 30.
Visit www.expeditionchurch.org for a registration form or call 770-639-1097 for more information.
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