Classrooms of the Future

Photography provided by the Art Academy of Cincinnati

Art Academy of Cincinnati (AAC) reaches out to the Greater Cincinnati region well beyond its urban campus in Over-the-Rhine. Community Education is its ambassador for a life of creativity providing a distinctive education for children, teens and adults by empowering them to embrace their artistic abilities. AAC’s Community Education is a leader in educating the community in the visual arts at every skill level, creating opportunities for people aged six to 86.

Community Education has been at the forefront of hands-on visual arts learning. Innovators in the field of classrooms of the future, AAC’s Community Education artists and educators shift the focus from teacher to student, increasing peer-to-peer learning. This concept creates an atmosphere of group collaboration that promotes critical thinking. 

“Part of what makes Community Education so vital is their emphasis on mentoring, weekly student exhibitions and guest artists,” says John Sullivan, president of the Art Academy of Cincinnati. “Field trips are related to instruction and provide a larger cultural learning environment for school children. Through Community Education, we also develop two-way learning between community and business leaders. We educate parents and community partners regarding demands of the next generation workforce and the important role the visual arts play in preparing students for successful careers and adult life.”

Community Education students are children and adults from Greater Cincinnati, from low-income and affluent city neighborhoods, suburban locations and rural towns. Not everyone chooses to be an artist, but art instruction research shows there are benefits such as higher academic achievement, advantages in employment, and increase in volunteerism and civic responsibility. Having an education in the arts levels the playing field for children who come from financially challenged backgrounds. “That’s where Community Education shines,” says Jennifer Spurlock, the director of Community Education. “We connect, represent and build partnerships between AAC and outside organizations looking for creative ways to build communities, strengthen families and support individual personal achievement and creative learning.” 

She adds, “With programs being cut from many school curriculums, we will have a generation of students who miss out on enrichment skills and knowledge that comes from art education, especially in the underserved populations. Community Education can play a pivotal role in bridging that gap. Our students don’t just learn art; they learn why art is important to them. Some organizations just count heads. AAC has standards, monitoring goals and objectives.”

AAC has been offering community art classes for years, taught by experienced professional artists and educators. They cultivate a yearning for learning that starts with children in kindergarten and continues through high school and beyond. For nearly 30 years AAC has offered Arts for Kids program. Cincinnati Magazine named Camp Art Academy ‘Best in the City.’ 

AAC is proud of its programs for schools, bringing award-winning visual art instruction and memorable art experiences directly to elementary and high schools. The P&G/AAC Visual Art Outreach Program is now in its 24th year of art integration using SmartArt curricula to teach academic subject matter through visual art lessons. Through grants and funding from foundations, corporations and individuals, Community Education can provide innovative curriculum to students in any socio-economic levels.

For junior and senior high school students, Community Education creates a college and career readiness after school program using various curricula that are rooted in the AAC college-level liberal arts studies. Portfolio Prep is designed for high school juniors, seniors and recent graduates to strengthen their portfolios and introduce them to career choices in the visual arts and design fields. “We help high school students refine their work, recognize their artistic voice and strengthen their portfolios,” says Tanner Browne who teaches Portfolio Prep during the summer on AAC’s campus. “Art colleges are competitive and a good portfolio is critical for acceptance into most colleges of art and design.” 

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn.” AAC believes that involved learning is a lifelong process and no matter your age, you have time to paint your masterpiece. Community Education offers dozens of year-round adult classes from photography and sculpture to art history and painting at six different locations in town.

AAC Community Education believes that making art makes a difference. The joy and satisfaction, the critical and creative thinking make a difference to individuals, schools and communities. 

Make Art. Make a Difference. 

The Art Academy of Cincinnati offers Associate, Bachelor and Masters degrees. The undergraduate degree program consists of the two-year Associate of Science in graphic design; and the four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in design, illustration, painting & drawing, photography, print media and sculpture. The three-year graduate program leads to the Masters of Arts in art education by providing studio art, art history and art education courses designed for working art teachers. Community Education classes are available year round. Visit