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Back-to-School Brings After-School Arts

Ironing out morning routines and making “this year” promises—back to school time is here. Before your post-school, pre-dinner downtime turns into a TV routine, consider an arts extracurricular. From tots to teens, Ohio arts organizations offer activities as diverse as throwing on the potter’s wheel to rock band jam sessions.

A difficult task to pick only a few, we encourage you to do more of your own research (and let us know if you find something great). Here’s a quick guide to help make after-school time a bit more creative: 

Arts Centers: Local arts centers often offer after-school arts activities, and often not the Popsicle sticks and “crafty” kind. Brecksville Arts Center and Wayne Center for the Arts take extracurricular to another level. 

  • Wayne Center for the Arts, Wooster
    With youth to teen classes in dance, theatre, visual arts, music, and voice—the Wayne Center for the Arts surely has variety and substance. We suggest artsOUTLET, a program that provides an outlet for expression in order to foster a line-long appreciation for the arts. An exhibition in the gallery highlights artwork created during the sessions in December. This program is free to students enrolled in partner organizations, and financial aid is available for all classes to those who qualify.
  • Brecksville Center for the Arts
    Brecksville No need to rush across town for these special two-hour classes that take place in four Brecksville Schools. Students in grades 1-5 complete “no fail” projects during these six-week sessions. Be sure to check out Brecksville Center for the Arts’ many other arts education activities offered at their facility.

Libraries: Your local public library is a great place to settle in after the bell rings. Many locations provide homework help, but don’t be afraid to get creative and sign up for that poetry class too. 

  • The Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County
    Youngstown area Youngstown Libraries have a free after-school homework help center with added emphasis on programming for the often-overlooked age group of tweens and teens. Programming includes a banned book hunt, worst first day of school writing contest, teen time Tuesday, and even a teen cafe.
  • Dayton Metro Library, Dayton area
    Dayton Metro Libraries partner with community arts organizations from the Dayton Philharmonic to Black Box Improv Theatre in their "Check Out the Arts" program. Artists and organizations will present fun, interactive, free programs for children, teens, adults, and families at all library branches this fall.

Opera Houses and Orchestras: Explore options beyond private lessons, and discover group music education opportunities offered by orchestras, opera houses, and other music venues. 

  • Stuart’s Opera House, Nelsonville
    Rocking out in a band at the Nelsonville Music Festival seems like a far away fantasy for most of us, but not for some Athens/Nelsonville area teens. Students age 13-18 learn an instrument (provided by Stuart’s) then create their very own bands, write music, and perform on the Nelsonville Music Festival stages. After-school dream come true. Accepting applications now, email Emily Prince at
  • Cleveland Orchestra, Northeast Ohio
    Turning into a national model, the Cleveland Orchestra has been targeting younger audiences and getting results. Their in-school and out-of-school education programs are as diverse as they are engaging. They offer a variety of resources to Northeast Ohio music teachers to better integrate music into the classroom, introduce music to pre-k and first graders in PNC Musical Program, and provide pre-professional experience to teens through student ensembles.

Museums and More: Ohio boasts a long list of art and history museums; many include entire spaces devoted to public education. Here’s a look at two institutions that offer stellar school-based programs.

  • Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo
    Classes are offered during the day to home-school students, glassblowing and warm glass classes are available to high schoolers, and the Family Center is free and open to all. Class-time variety and options to engage all ages is an added bonus.
  • Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati
    Volunteering at a museum is another great way to integrate the arts into a weekly routine. The Cincinnati Museum Center offers Youth Programs (13 years of age and older) including the opportunity to lead tours, interpret exhibits, participate in workshops, and present educational presentations to museum visitors.

Other: Oftentimes individual schools head up unadvertised after-school activities led by teachers or even a parent--a quick email to your child’s teacher asking what’s offered might leave you pleasantly surprised. Perhaps your very own dining room is the best choice for after school arts engagement. All it takes is a little time, a creative space, and some guidance. Dust off that old keyboard, get out the paint brushes, put on your dancin’ shoes, and share your love of the arts with the next generation.

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Christy Farnbauch, Inovation and Engagement Director
Photo by Vincent Tantardini on Unsplash

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