Most educational programs, even those with solid art programs, portray art as a reprieve from homework and arithmetic. Frivolous and fun, art is a way to decorate the realities of learning, growing up and living. But not this program. “Hi Art!” exposes kids to opera and other forms of high art starting at toddlerdom. A bold mission, it’s true, but a hugely successful one thus far. In its 15 years of running the program has become one of the most talked-about in New York.
Cyndie Bellen-Berthézène, “Hi Art!”s founder and director, said, “Great art transmits something that is essentially human.” It doesn’t just color our lives, it has the power to be at the core of how we live. Although when I think of opera we tend to think of a stodgy, elderly woman with teeny binoculars and white gloves, at its core opera is pure human expression. The words, the costumes, the sets, all take the back seat to an indescribable momentum and feeling. What is more accessible than that?