By Steve Sears—
Tarrytown Arts Camp (TAC) offers more than just painting and crafts classes . It encompasses multiple arts: music, dance, and theater, in addition to learning about different cultures through their arts and traditions.
TAC was founded and run by Alison Paul for 18 years before she passed the torch to Anna Povich de Mayor. Both knew each other through a yoga class.
“She found out that I was a musician, and she said, ‘Oh, I lead this arts camp. Tell me what you do,’ and I explained to her what my husband, Pablo, and I do: we run a Colombian music program and do a lot of educational work in the schools in New York,” Povich de Mayor explained.
Povich de Mayor, working in New York with a lot of outstanding artists combined with her big network of people, made it a priority to introduce these communities and diverse cultural traditions to the TAC and open up new, different worlds for camp attendees. Paul then asked Povich de Mayor if she’d be interested in bringing the program to the TAC, which she did, and taught workshops for the first year. “She [Alison Paul] loved what we did and invited us the next year to start an afternoon extension program which she’d never done before,” said Povich de Mayor.
The TAC is also now more than just an indoors camp experience. Normally held inside Sleepy Hollow High School, COVID-19 forced it to be held virtually last summer, and outdoors this year, with Povich de Mayor deciding to move it to Sleepy Hollow’s Kingsland Point Park.
“Kingsland Point Park is kind of a little hidden jewel that we have,” she said of the location on the Hudson River.
When it was initially suggested last December that she do a hybrid instead of just a virtual camp, Povich de Mayor instead was committed to finding an outdoor space, and she thought of the exact spot where her feet had already trod. She and her husband had done a performance at the park and knew the location well. “This is a beautiful facility, and it’s got just so much potential, and it’s really underused,” she said.
She had also previously held outdoor workshops there. “And it was so successful,” Povich de Mayor recalled. “There was a covering, there was electricity, rain or shine. It was just the perfect location, and I said to Pablo, ‘This is the place for arts camp – there’s just so much potential.’” And, of course, there’s nothing like the draw of nature. “And I have to tell you, this park is picturesque and breathtakingly beautiful,” she added.
After preparing and presenting a proposal to the Village of Sleepy Hollow and getting her approvals, plus receiving donations towards the rental of the park pavilions, Povich de Mayor proceeded with her new plans
“Now, producing an outdoor camp is a totally different ballgame,” she said. “We went from using five classrooms and one foreign language wing of the high school, which is moving kids from one classroom to the next. That’s pretty simple.”
The park, however, had everything TAC needed: six different covered locations, a gazebo overlooking the Hudson, picnic tables, a playground, a pavilion on the top floor of the historic bathhouse which is covered and very spacious – with open air on all sides, and beneath it an atrium with doors on either side which also offered an open-air space, as well as an art classroom with a sink and tables.
“And then outside,” she said, “underneath the bathhouse (the Kathryn W. Davis RiverWalk Center), there’s like a covered courtyard with these beautiful arching walls, and it’s just this incredible space where there’s just so much room for creativity.” In order to get enough registrations as well as focus on social distancing, Povich de Mayor created six groups instead of five, and six rotations instead of four rotations, and added recreational activities in between the arts.
TAC also offers scholarships, with benefits close to 40% of camp attendees. “We get funds from Kids Club on an annual basis, and Kids Club was very generous this year; they gave us more than usual. They’re just an incredible local organization that is just so dedicated to our lower income community. Rotary gives money towards scholarships, the Westchester Community Foundation (WCF) supports the youth development program, and The Rockefeller Brothers Fund helps bring world-reknowned artists to work with the kids and to perform for the community,” she said. “And then, Alison (Paul) actually created a scholarship fund which she left the camp. She’s amazing; I can’t say enough about Alison, and she’s continuing to support the scholarship students through her own fund. And then we do have very generous parents in the district, and I think this is true for any kind of school programs. You ask parents to give, and they will pay for an extra student, or they will give an extra $30 here and there because they know they know the community they live in, and they are generous people.”
Povich de Mayor is also quick to recognize the Youth Development Program started by Paul that aids the camp. “About 20 high school counselors from our local community,” she said, “and we had about another 20 student volunteers who got community service for working with us. Ashlee (Molina) was one of the high school counselors who was given the role of photographer and videographer. She’s quite talented and she took some really beautiful photos and videos, so that’s a special aspect of the camp that’s really essential to the community, giving work and experience to the youth.”
Tarrytown Arts Camp:
Dates: The three weeks in July following Independence Day.
Student grades accepted per program:
- Multi Arts 8:45 a.m.-1 p.m. rising K-4 (with Theater Afternoon extension for the Multi Arts Campers 1:15-3:15)
- Mixed Media Painting afternoon workshops weeks one and two 1:30-3:30 (Grades 5-8)
- Music at TAC -Instrumental Ensemble week 1 (Grades 6-8).
Classes offered in 2021: Individual or Multi-Arts programs were offered in Theater Creation, a Puppet Theater Workshop, and Mixed Media Painting in the Spirit of the Zulu Folk Tales, “Where Stories Come From”
- Music at TAC: Sleepy Hollow Vocal and Instrumental Ensembles
- And coming soon: Hudson Valley Rising Writers – Creative Writing Camp (Environmental Writing).
- Note: Clay Camp and Architecture for Kids Camp may return in the summer of 2022.
Cost: In 2021, residents paid $250 per week for Multi Arts Camp
- $125 for the Music at TAC afternoon camp
- $145 for painting camp
- $125 for the Multi Arts Theater Afternoon extension program. There is a sibling discount and a discount if Multi Arts campers register for all three weeks (Monday-Friday).
Where and how to apply: On-line registration at www.tarrytownartscamp.com.
Whom to contact for scholarship information: Check the financial assistance request on the application form. The Association of Hispanic Families of the Tarrytowns (AFHT) assists the TAC Director in finding the neediest families for scholarships. Families receiving scholarships pay only a small stipend each week.
Where information about the camp can be found: On the Tarrytown Arts Camp web site (www.tarrytownartscamp.com. ) and social media pages, and via the TUFSD district eblast.