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10 Summer Art Programs for Middle School Students

If you’re a middle school student interested in the arts, these programs should definitely be on your radar! These programs will be a great opportunity for you to develop your artistic skills, explore new mediums, and connect with people that share your interests. Early exposure to art programs can also have a significant impact on your future college applications. Admissions officers often look for candidates who demonstrate passion and commitment to their interests. By starting early, you will be able to get ahead of your peers and be a more competitive applicant for similar programs and opportunities in high school, setting you apart amongst other competitive applicants.


Location: New York, NY

Cost: $320

Application Deadline: Rolling

Program Dates: July 8-19, 2024

Eligibility: Students entering grades 7-8


Participating in the Pratt Institute Summer Scholars program is a solid opportunity for you to enhance your artistic skills. The program, designed for students in grades 7-8, focuses on Middle School Portfolio Development, making it ideal if you're interested in improving your observational drawing skills and considering applying to portfolio audition high schools. You can expect to work with a variety of still-life objects and models, using materials such as pencil, oil pastel, and charcoal. The projects will emphasize depicting three-dimensional forms in space and understanding how these forms are influenced by natural and artificial light.


In addition to the curriculum, the Pratt Institute Summer Scholars program offers mentorship from experienced instructors who provide personalized feedback to help you grow as an artist. You'll also have opportunities for field visits to museums and galleries, giving you a broader perspective on the art world and its various practices. 


Application Deadline: Varying deadlines based on cohort. Main summer deadlines are March 15, April 15, and May 15

Duration: Options range from 12 weeks to 1 year.

Location: Remote — you can participate in this program from anywhere in the world!

Eligibility:

  • You must be currently enrolled in high school

  • Students must demonstrate a high level of academic achievement. (Note. students have an unweighted GPA of 3.3 out of 4)

  • No previous knowledge of your field of interest is required!

Program Dates: Summer cohort runs from June to August, Fall cohort from September to December, Winter cohort from December to February, Spring from March to June 


The Lumiere Research Scholar Program is a rigorous research program tailored for high school students. The program offers extensive 1-on-1 research opportunities for high school students, across a broad range of subject areas that you can explore as a high schooler. 


The program pairs high-school students with Ph.D. mentors to work 1-on-1 on an independent research project. At the end of the 12-week program, you’ll have developed an independent research paper! You can choose research topics from subjects such as history, gender studies, art, literature, culture, and more. You can find more details about the application here!


Location: Chicago, IL

Cost: $995

Application Deadline: Rolling

Program Dates: June 17-28, 2024

Eligibility: Students going into 7th, 8th, or 9th grade


The Chicago Academy for the Arts Summer Program is for you if you are passionate about dance, media arts, music, theater, or visual arts. The Dance Intensive focuses on ballet, modern, jazz, and contemporary techniques, as well as improvisation and body conditioning, taught by Academy faculty and professionals from prestigious companies like the Joffrey Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. The Storytelling in Media course offers hands-on experience in film, animation, photography, and creative writing, allowing you to explore different storytelling mediums under the guidance of experienced instructors.


In the Creative Musicians for Social Change course, you will create, record, and perform original songs addressing social justice topics, using The Academy's professional recording studio. Theater enthusiasts can dive into workshops on Shakespeare, musical theater dance, and voice & diction. Visual arts students will explore traditional techniques and contemporary practices in drawing, painting, printmaking, weaving, and sculpture


Location: Queens, NY

Cost: Free

Application Deadline: February 28, 2024

Program Dates: July 8 - August 2, 2024

Eligibility: Students entering grades 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12 in the Fall of 2024 and currently enrolled in a New York City Department of Education public school and planning to attend a New York City Department of Education public school for the 2024-25 school year


The Frank Sinatra School of the Arts’ Summer Arts Institute is a free, four-week program, held in Astoria, Queens. You can choose to major in dance, theater, instrumental music (band), string orchestra, vocal music, film, or visual arts. Designed for intermediate and advanced students, the program aims to develop your artistic skills and creativity, broaden your awareness of the arts, and help you explore career options in the arts and related industries. With guidance from Department of Education arts specialists, partnering cultural organizations, and guest artists, you will build your portfolio or audition skills, preparing you for the next level of study at an arts-focused high school, college, university, or conservatory.


The schedule includes rehearsals, attending professional performances, and visiting prominent arts venues. The program also features opportunities for you to perform at various venues around New York City and showcase your original work in a supportive, informal setting called the SAI Café. The experience ends with an exhibition and live performance for families and the community, celebrating the achievements of all participating students. Collaborating with prestigious cultural partners such as the American Ballet Theatre, Carnegie Hall, and the New York Philharmonic, the Summer Arts Institute is a great way for you to connect with professional artists and cultural resources.


Location: Orlando, FL

Cost: Varies depending on program length 

Application Deadline: Rolling

Program Dates: Five day sessions in June-August

Eligibility: Students entering grades 6-8


The Frank Sinatra School of the Arts’ Summer Arts Institute will strengthen your art skills by offering both full-day and half-day weeklong sessions. For example, the "Food for Thought" morning session allows you to create art inspired by food, turning clay into lifelike sculptures and painting realistic doughnuts. In the afternoon "Passion for Paint" session, you’ll delve into watercolor, acrylic, and mixed media techniques, drawing inspiration from gallery artworks to craft both realistic and abstract paintings.


The program also includes specialized workshops like "Steampunk!" and "Mixed Media Madness." In the morning "Steampunk!" session, you’ll use found objects and materials to create industrial, steam-powered themed art pieces such as clocks, goggles, and collages, adding a unique, layered aesthetic to your work. The afternoon "Mixed Media Madness" session encourages you to combine various media like watercolor, collage, chalk, and fabric to create impactful, multifaceted art pieces. Each session is designed to provide hands-on experience with different materials and techniques, fostering your creativity and expanding your artistic skills. 


Location: Baltimore, MD

Cost: Free

Application Deadline: Rolling

Program Dates: July 1 - August 1

Eligibility: Baltimore City Public Schools students currently in grades PreK–6 (during the 2023–24 school year) who are enrolled at a Title I school.


The Maryland Summer Arts for Learning Academy is a free program operated by Arts for Learning Maryland for Baltimore City Schools designed for students entering grades 3 through 6. This full-day, five-week program provides you with the opportunity to dive deeper into two art forms of your choice, allowing you to focus and refine your skills in areas that interest you most. 


Throughout the program, you will work with some of the best teachers and teaching artists in the state, who will mentor you and guide your artistic development. The Academy emphasizes hands-on learning and encourages you to explore new art forms and ways of thinking. You will also participate in weekly squad meetings, where you can share your work, connect with fellow students, and engage with professional artists. These sessions not only help you showcase your progress but also build a sense of community and collaboration.


Location:Interlochen, MI

Cost: Ranges from $1,830 to $10,080 depending on program length

Application Deadline: Rolling

Program Dates: Varies from 1 week camps to 6 week camps

Eligibility: Students in grades 3-12


Each summer, the camp welcomes over 3,000 students from around the globe. You can choose from a wide range of programs across seven disciplines: creative writing, dance, film and new media, interdisciplinary arts, music, theater, and visual arts. The curriculum is designed to challenge and inspire you, offering a blend of rigorous training and creative exploration tailored to your specific interests and skill levels. Whether you are composing a piece of music, performing on stage, crafting a short film, or developing your visual arts portfolio, you will find ample opportunities to refine your craft and express your creativity.


One of the standout features of Interlochen Arts Camp is the exceptional mentorship and support provided by a dedicated team of faculty and staff, with a remarkable 1:2 ratio of adults to students. This ensures that you receive personalized guidance and instruction, helping you to grow both artistically and personally. In addition to the intensive studio work and classes, the camp experience includes field visits, performances, and exhibitions, allowing you to showcase your work and learn from professional artists. The camp's alumni network of 90,000 individuals worldwide also offers a valuable resource for future opportunities and connections in the arts. 


Location: Iowa City, IA

Cost: $350

Application Deadline: Rolling

Program Dates: Varies 

Eligibility: Students in grades 5-12


Attending the Iowa Conservatory’s (ICON) Summer Intensive allows you to experience one- or two-week programs, tailored to different artistic disciplines. Whether you are passionate about classical dance, contemporary and jazz dance, musical theatre, or visual arts, ICON’s intensives allow you to delve deep into your chosen field. For example, the classical dance intensive, directed by Leslie Nolte and Loren Williams, prepares serious dancers in grades 5 through 12 for pre-professional or professional programs


ICON’s intensives are not just about training but offer a holistic experience that includes mentorship and collaboration with renowned instructors. The contemporary and jazz dance intensive, for instance, focuses on both technique and improvisation, allowing you to explore various choreographic styles and build your creative portfolio. Similarly, the musical theatre workshop, directed by Lenni Stone and Max Moreno, includes daily singing, acting, and dance classes, culminating in a final showcase. This program features masterclasses with Broadway guest artists, providing a professional-level experience. Visual arts enthusiasts can join the drawing, painting, and illustration intensive, directed by Kyle Powell, where you will spend your days in the studio learning techniques and exploring artistic expression.


Location: Huntington Beach, CA

Cost: $329

Application Deadline: June

Program Dates: July 8 - 19, 2024

Eligibility: Rising 7th-11th graders


The Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts (APA) Pop Music Summer Camp is open to students from rising 7th grade through rising 11th grade and is held on the Huntington Beach High School campus. The camp provides ten sessions, each packed with activities from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Under the guidance of professional musicians, you will explore the fundamentals of various instruments such as voice, guitar, bass, drums, and keys, as well as delve into songwriting and ear-training


In addition to the technical training, APA's Pop Music Summer Camp emphasizes mentorship and confidence-building strategies. The small cohort size allows for personalized instruction and meaningful interactions with the instructors. Throughout the camp, you will work on group projects and individual performances, preparing for a final showcase performance on Friday, July 19th. This performance opportunity allows you to demonstrate your newly acquired skills and gain experience in a live music setting. 


Location: MassArt Campus

Cost:$795

Application Deadline: May 31, 2024

Program Dates: July 29 - August 9

Eligibility: Students entering grades 7-9


The MassArt Creative Studios summer camp is designed for young artists entering grades 7-9. This program offers both morning and afternoon studio classes that run Monday to Friday. Morning studios include "Creature Design," where you can learn to ideate, draw, and paint your own mythical creatures, and "Drawing Fundamentals," which covers basics like linear and aerial perspective, alongside traditional and experimental drawing methods. Other options include "Fashion Design," where you’ll reinvent garments from your wardrobe, and "Studio Explorations," which encourages experimentation with various art-making techniques.


Afternoon studios continue the diverse offerings with classes such as "Artist Books," where you’ll explore different book-making styles and narrative sequences, and "Comic Book Art," focusing on the art of narrative comics and developing your unique voice in comic storytelling. "Stop Motion Animation" introduces basic principles through various styles like cut-paper, claymation, and object motion, providing a hands-on approach to animated storytelling. "Drawing Fundamentals" and "Studio Explorations" are also available in the afternoons.


Location: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Cost: $400 per week

Application Deadline: Rolling

Program Dates: June 24 - August 9

Eligibility: Ages 5-14


The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) Summer Art Camp allows you to engage in a variety of art-making activities such as painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, comics, and mixed-media projects, all within the historic studios of the oldest art school and museum in the United States. Campers are divided into age-appropriate groups to ensure a tailored experience, and the small cohort sizes allow for personalized instruction and mentorship.


Each week of the camp focuses on a different theme, allowing you to either choose specific weeks based on your interests or attend the entire summer for a comprehensive artistic journey. Themes include "Art Foundations," "Drawing," "Animation," "Mixed Media," "Painting," "Sculptural Explorations," and "Printing 101," with projects that develop both traditional and experimental art skills. In addition to studio time, the camp includes creative play and rest periods, reading and storytelling sessions, and opportunities for socializing. Campers also visit museum galleries for educational tours and occasionally take walks to nearby parks, weather permitting. Every Friday, the week culminates in an Art Exhibition where you can showcase your work to family and friends.



Jessica attends Harvard University where she studies Neuroscience and Computer Science as a Coca-Cola, Elks, and Albert Shankar Scholar. She is passionate about educational equity and hopes to one day combine this with her academic interests via social entrepreneurship. Outside of academics, she enjoys taking walks, listening to music, and running her jewelry business! 


Image Source: Pratt Institute seal

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