Sitar Arts Center Teaches Kids How to Rock the Runway
by wendie pecharsky | September 1, 2010 |
CELEBRATING A DECADE of serving the community, Sitar Arts Center welcomes about 750 children each year at its modern facility on Kalorama Road NW. Here, grade school and high school students, many of them from low-income households, can take dance lessons, try their hand at photography or learn to play a musical instrument.
But the center’s staffers say that some of the most-requested courses in recent years have been part of Sitar’s fashion design program, a track that’s become more popular each year since it was launched in 2004.
A. Lorraine Robinson, Sitar’s director of faculty and education, says the program’s courses include everything from costume and fashion design to advanced-level sewing. Allison Lince-Bentley (PICTURED), cofounder of DC Threads, a volunteer organization dedicated to keeping the art of sewing alive in the Greater Washington area, is head of the fashion design department at Sitar and teaches the advanced class along with four other adult volunteers. “I’ve taught at a lot of community centers,” says Lince-Bentley, “but Sitar has really captured the interests of the parents and the children of this community, plus it’s a safe and loving place for kids.” Indeed, without the Sitar program, Lince- Bentley says, “There’s very little out there for kids or adults in terms of learning how to sew, and the demand is tremendous.”
To meet that continued demand and broaden the curricula, Sitar recently enlisted the help of Dennis McBride, a professional fashion illustrator and designer. McBride joins Lince-Bentley in teaching the advanced fashion design class and provides feedback to students who are eager to know more about what being a fashion designer is like. In fact, both McBride and Lince-Bentley are all about preparing their students in the event their after-school hobby turns into a career. Under Lince-Bentley’s tutelage, fashion design students even present a Project Runway-style fashion show at the end of each semester and model their creations. “The kids choose what they want to make,” says Lince-Bentley. “We as teachers do whatever it takes for them to achieve that."