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IBE Performing Arts Academy serves Indy's teens 365 days a year

Students get hands-on experience with arts
Posted at 7:20 AM, Mar 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-25 07:32:29-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Many people believe the Indiana Black Expo is only just something that pops up in the summer, but, in reality, they host a number of programs that happen year-around. The Performing Arts Academy is one of them.

"Black Expo is so much deeper than that. The stuff that we do in the summer is huge because it helps us be able to do all of the things, we do year-around," said Allen Bell, marketing and media director at IBE.

Summer Celebration aside, there is something special happening inside the Indiana Black Expo's Performing Arts Academy. For 12 weeks at a time Indy's youth can get hands-on experience in acting, dance, photography, videography and music production. Classes are held every Saturday with additional open hours weekdays after school.

"Having kids be able to do things after school and kind of stay occupied, having kids be able to do things on the weekend are all things that we are intentionally doing to kind of help folks stay out of trouble," Bell said.

The facilities inside the Performing Arts Academy are not only beautiful, but the equipment inside is professional broadcast quality.

"It's top of the line stuff. I mean I wish at my age, between 13 and 19, I had this stuff accessible to me, and so when they come in, just seeing the stuff brings inspiration. It brings that bit of creativity that may not have been there before," Joseph French said.

French, IBE's music production director, is one of the industry professionals participants in the program teens get to work with while learning the skills most young people won't learn until college or their first job. Andrew Johnson, a 16-year-old Pike High School student, said he plans to take everything he can get from the program. This future poet, producer and audio engineer has set a big goal hit by his 17th birthday.

"I want to fully be able to make a song and see everything through, just fully for myself, and I of course want to bring other people along but I want to be able to say I can do it myself and know that in my own head," Johnson said.

Anyone between the ages of 13-19 years old can sign up for IBE's next performing arts academy group. Classes run in 12-week rotations in addition to summer classes. It is free. You can sign up online here: