Welcome to Blackbird Academy of Arts, Inc., a not-for-profit organization formed to give all persons in the Conway, Arkansas area opportunities to experience and take part in artistic endeavors. Our goal is to provide a solid foundation of quality arts education to anyone with a true desire to cultivate their artistic abilities. But beyond simply providing instruction, we also give these students opportunities to share their gifts with the community through performances, art shows, readings, and more.
While we strongly encourage excellence in all areas, our philosophy is that art is more than learning how to draw a perfect figure or execute a technically correct leap. Art can be a vehicle for change, it can be a venue for people to connect, to learn, to experience something they might otherwise never have. With this in mind, our classes focus not only on technical teaching, but also serve to instill in each student an understanding in the value of art as a tool for expression and communication. By combining these ideas, our desire is to offer a carefully balanced atmosphere of both discipline and creativity.
Furthermore, we seek to create an arts education center where favoritism is not an option, honesty with and between students, parents, and staff is first and foremost, and each student is given as much attention, guidance, and instruction as possible. If that is what you are looking for, Blackbird Academy of Arts in Conway, Arkansas is the place for you!
Why the name Blackbird?
Blackbird singing in the dead of night, Take these broken wings and learn to fly.
All your life, You were only waiting for this moment to arise.
One thing I love about music is the crazy ability of a songwriter to take a string of words and notes and make something compelling and beautiful out of them. I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that was supportive of musical endeavors and so I’ve always felt connected to music on a personal level.
When I was a teenager my father introduced me to the music of the Beatles and I was instantly hooked. During my college years the words to Paul McCartney’s song “Blackbird” became a personal anthem of sorts as I struggled to let go of the things of the past and move forward into my future. As an eternal optimist I loved the concept of broken things just waiting for the time to be rise up and be whole.
When it came time for me to complete my undergraduate thesis with the UCA Honors College I kept thinking back to a story I had written in one of my creative classes called Blackbird. The autobiographical story was written in the form of a fairy tale and told of a girl who had to go back and visit the broken places of her past in order to find her way home. Rather than write a paper for my thesis, I decided to turn Blackbird into a full-blown production, using a variety of arts to tell the one story. With the help of 40 other college students- from artists to dancers to actors, musicians, and more – we presented this narrative of hope and healing to a crowd of almost 500 people.
After the production was said and done, I kept coming back to the beauty of so many artists working together. I thought of how the arts had been such an affirmative thing in my life, how my dance and music and poetry had been a positive format for me to express the frustrations and hurt that come with growing up. As the years passed I couldn’t let go of these thoughts. Even as a teenager I had envisioned a place where artists could join together for a common good, and so I started to think what that could look like then and there for my community. I saw all of these kids who were like me – full of passion and talent and promise, but with few opportunities and not always the funds to back it all up.
And so, just as I had done years earlier with my thesis, I started to pull together a group of artists for one common goal – to make quality arts opportunities readily available and affordable for our community. We wanted to create a place of sound instruction, creative encouragement, and safe expression for artists of all kinds. As we moved forward I thought what better name for a place like this than Blackbird. A place where artists of all ages can come, broken wings or not, and learn what it means for them to arise. And thus… Blackbird Academy of Arts was born.
-By Blackbird Academy founder Jennie Strange