The Baltimore School for the Arts (BSA) recently received a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support an arts education program focused on children from less privileged communities.  

The funds were part of $82 million in federal funds dispersed to local art programs and projects across the country.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support organizations such as the Baltimore School for the Arts, in serving their communities by providing excellent and accessible art experiences.” Jane Chu, chair of the National Foundation for the Arts, said in a statement. “The arts reflect the vision, energy, and talent of America’s artists and art organizations.”

The Baltimore School for the Arts was founded in 1979; its TWIGS program was started in 1982 to give young students from the city’s under-privileged communities a chance to develop artistically.

The program was originally centered around dance performance, but later expanded to include visual arts, theater, and instrumental and vocal music, and film and visual storytelling.

Becky Mossing, TWIGS program coordinator, said she is very excited about the grant. She said the funds will support the “Hello TWIGS” program, which buses students from certain neighborhoods to the BSA for exposure to art programs.

“One of the most important parts of the program is the community outreach piece, it’s a very vital part of what we do,” Mossing said. “We bring groups in for matinee performances, we go out to schools to do programming, a lot of it is to see if we can drum up interest in the arts and humanities for students who may have otherwise not been exposed to them.”

Mossing said the federal funds come at a critical time for the TWIGS program, which has faced cuts amid the city school system’s ongoing budget crisis.

“It’s been a really difficult year, originally our budget was so depleted we weren’t sure if we would have a TWIGS program at all,” she said. “We’ve had to do a lot restructuring so that we could continue on with our existing programs and although some of our funding was restored our TWIGS budget was cut pretty significantly. Lots of adjustments were made in response to the budget deficit. Our hope is that things will settle and we’ll have a better understanding of what funds we can receive and how to move forward once the school system comes back from this crisis.”