Get To Know Our New Program Director
Jake Arky

How did you get involved in the arts/performing arts? 

I wanted to be an athlete as a kid, so my dad signed me up for all sorts of sports camps. But I wasn't good at any of them. Plus, I didn't like practicing or working out, especially running. But my parents both worked full time, so I needed something to keep me occupied. One summer, my dad signed me up for an acting class at a local children's theatre, which is where I was bit by the performing arts bug. I'm still scratching that itch, even now...

What has been your favorite memory with USTC so far? 

My favorite memory of USTC -- and it's so hard to choose just one -- has been the Spring 2020 Youth Theatre Residency Program culmination at the Dorothy Kirby Center. Because of Covid-19, we weren't allowed into the facility, so we had to pre-record the Page Play reading with actors on Zoom. I got to deliver the final edited recording, along with a bunch of food and drinks, to the P.O.s and then waited outside the facility, listening to the participants react to their play via a conference call that had been set up. It was a very different experience from any other type of culmination I'd worked on in the past. It was the very early days of the pandemic, so some of the participants we never saw face-to-face. A few were just known to us by their voices. But the way they laughed or reacted to the Page Play they had collectively written, which was now being performed on screen. That experience and the feeling that came with it is something that continues to stick with me.

What are some exciting things folks can anticipate for this year's programs? 

The rollout of a brand new workshop models and lessons created by our Curriculum Think Tank this spring. Not only will the programs continue to serve our participants and communities better, but they'll be able to adapt in real-time to the needs of the ensemble in the workshop. This redesign allows for a focus on social justice, as well as action items participants can take with them once the workshops end. USTC is committed to being anti-racist, anti-colonial, and abolitionist in policy and practice, which starts with our curriculum. I'm thrilled to see the pilot programs launch in the coming months. I hope everyone will join us for this next exciting chapter of arts education!