NY Art Students Work With Talent Agency
Dorene Quinn was teaching talented artists at Pratt Institute for 15 years when she decided to take her career in a new direction.
Quinn, tired of seeing a lack of diversity in her art classrooms at Pratt on the Utica Campus, decided to start an art education non-profit called Talent Agency, with her Co-Founder Yvonne Buchanan. The art non-profit targets low-income high school students who hope to attend a prestigious art college after graduation.
“Both of us came from lower-income families. Both of us really felt this lack of opportunities for kids like us,” said Quinn.
When the program first started in 2011, Quinn said they only had seven students. The Annie E. Casey Foundation provided a grant for the non-profit, to help them get their feet off the ground. The foundation provides money to organizations geared towards helping underprivileged children and families.
The two directors provide a free art education program to students, helping them develop work samples to present alongside their college applications.
“The difference between applying just to go to college and applying as an arts student is that the students need to have a competitive portfolio that has a large number of work samples,” said Quinn.
The students prepare up to 15-20 samples of artwork over the course of their time at Talent Agency.
“Kids with resources, their families can tuition them into summer programs and pre-college programs and programs at the museum,” said Quinn, “These are the kids who need to have the knock out portfolios because that gives the door to scholarships.”
Since starting the program in 2011, Quinn has seen successful students come into Talent Agency and ultimately follow their dreams of going to an arts college.
One student just started college at SUNY Purchase and was the only student from Central New York to qualify for the Educational Opportunity Program, which targets students who come from a lower-income background. Other students have accepted admission at Fashion Institute in New York City, RIT, and even at Syracuse University.
Quinn sees the value in obtaining an art degree, thinking that students who get one possess several characteristics that make them hirable.
“I feel really passionately that employers should really think about hiring people that have a creative education because they will be problem solvers. They have multiple skills and they are sort of used to teaching themselves, exploring things. They’re self-learners,” said Quinn.