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Sitar Arts Center serves a diverse community of more than 450 students each semester, with children as young as a few months old through adults. A minimum of 80 percent of our students come from low-income households and no family is ever turned away due to inability to pay.
Many of Sitar’s students come from the surrounding Ward 1 neighborhoods of Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights and Mt. Pleasant, but students come from every ward in the district. Nationalities from across the globe are represented at the Center with families from Mexico, El Salvador, Colombia, Peru, Kenya, Ethiopia, France, Spain, Switzerland and Vietnam. Our goal is that every single student feels known, nurtured and loved at Sitar.
Click here to read our Student Success Stories.
"I love Sitar Arts Center because, people are nice loving and understanding.” – Nasirah, 8
"Sitar Arts Center has taught me how to play the piano, sing, act, read music, and express myself in many ways.” – Rudy, 12
"Sitar Arts Center is like a second home to me. It has provided me with countless opportunities and experiences and has allowed me to connect and share my talent with other teens in my community. It has also been a positive alternative for me in my neighborhood. Without this place, I can’t imagine what my life would be like.” – Deonte, 17
“The Sitar Center has made me who I am! The Center has opened the door to music and arts for me and given me confidence while performing.” – Emily, 15
“The Sitar Art Center has impacted my life by helping me learn to express myself on an everyday basis. I love it here!” – Victory, 12
“I really like being in the chorus for the musical and learning to dance and sing on stage. I felt really special and made new friends.” – Amaya, Age 11
“Sitar Arts Center’s goal is to introduce the arts to equally deserving low income families, Because of their mission I have discovered a love for arts, mostly because I learned art in love and now hope to continue to pay the world back in that same love.” – Michael, 18
Michael, Fashion Design
Michael discovered his love of fashion through Sitar’s fashion design program in high school. After just a few years at the Center, Michael went from being a student to a student teacher and representative of the student body on the Center’s Board of Directors.
Through the portfolio he developed here, he was accepted to the Savannah College of Arts and Design, where he is now a Fashion Design major, as well as to a number of other design schools. During his freshman year, he returned to DC to compete in the Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce’s Project Fundway Scholarship Fashion Show, where he was one of three finalists for his line of evening dresses. Michael continues to have a strong relationship with the Center, where he returned the summer of his freshman year to be the costume design intern for the annual summer musical, Hello, Dolly!
Adam, Visual Arts
During the last eight years, Adam, found his calling in the visual arts after taking more than 50 classes at Sitar Arts Center. Despite having faced many obstacles throughout his life in the inner city that could have derailed him, including living with a struggling immigrant family, being separated from his brother, living in foster care, and seeing gang violence first hand, he considered the Center and his art classes to be the glue that held everything together. Despite all of the barriers in his life, the Center and the arts allowed him to discover his love for the arts and his own self-worth.
When it was time for him to enter high school, the Center helped Adam prepare his portfolio, and he was admitted to Duke Ellington School for the Arts for fall 2007. Adam continues to show much artistic promise. Through the Center’s Entrepreneurship in the Arts, he has successfully sold more than seven paintings through his new business and served as a paid artist assistant for the Center’s first public mural on the façade of Mary’s Center in the summer of 2008. In 2006, he was highlighted in the 2006 Meyer Foundation annual report for his exceptional accomplishments. Without the opportunities and support he found at Sitar Arts Center, Adam may never have discovered and fostered his talents and love for visual arts.
Stephanie, Dance and Music
Born with cerebral palsy and a number of other diseases, Stephanie spent her early years in intensive therapy learning basic skills like walking and eating. Her family lived in public housing and struggled with medical bills, and their financial options for therapy were limited. In the summer of 2006, Stephanie’s mother discovered Sitar Arts Center in their neighborhood and signed her daughter up for dance and music classes as another way for Stephanie to improve her large motor skills.
Soon she was at the Center almost every day and quickly blossomed physically as well as emotionally in her creative expression. Stephanie immersed herself in all of the arts, taking classes like ballet, tap, creative writing, jewelry design, violin lessons, and music theory. Stephanie was asked to perform as a fox in The Washington Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker. Struggling to walk with braces on her legs only a few years before, this exceptional young woman beamed with pride as she danced her heart out on stage in a professional performance. Shortly thereafter she played in a recital on her violin in front of a packed auditorium.
Alex, Music Production
Alex started coming to Sitar Arts Center when he was 15 at the suggestion his guidance counselor at Bell Multicultural, who noticed he was having a hard year at school and encouraged him to sign up for classes. Alex knew he was interested in music and decided to try music production class, even though he had no experience with it. By his second year, Alex knew he had found something he was passionate about and he added DJing, music engineering and piano lessons to his Sitar roster. Alex’s counselor was really excited to see him return to his energetic self. Alex says that Sitar Arts Center helped him to “be me again.”
When Alex’s instructor noticed what a natural teacher Alex was while Alex was explaining the music production software to a new student, he suggested Alex could one day teach his own class. In his third year at Sitar, Alex is doing just that, leading a class of seven students. Alex’s favorite thing about teaching is “seeing [his students] improve…it seems like they always want to do more. With one student, as I kept giving him feedback, he kept working and working and getting happier and happier.” In addition to the time he spends at the Center teaching and taking classes, Alex also works at home to produce musical tracks and practices the piano for hours at a time. He is hoping to pursue musical production in college after he graduates from high school.