Prodigy: An arts showcase for the Tampa Bay area

Prodigy: A person gifted with exceptional qualities or talents.

An art party is coming to town: Prodigy Cultural Arts. And this art party will stretch beyond the arts into truly bright futures for the artists involved.

The notion of "prodigy" fits the University Area Community Development’s Cultural Arts Program (UACDC), currently “Celebrating 15 Years of Celebration.” UACDC serves kids 7-17 in over seven Tampa Bay area counties. To help explain Prodigy in more depth, Director Mike Trepper answers a few questions.

Can you explain what Prodigy does in just a few sentences? What’s the mission?

Prodigy is a youth development program where we utilize the arts as a vehicle for self-expression. The children are given life skills learned through expressions of a diversity of arts. So Prodigy is really transforming lives of children through those arts and life skills.  

 Prodigy is said to be "research-based." What does this mean?

In the early years, the model was that when high risk youth or youth in high risk communities are involved with Prodigy they’re less likely to get in trouble and more likely to use other outlets for self-expression.  Our recidivism rate means that 99% won’t get in trouble

How do you measure Prodigy’s success?

Through the Department of Criminal Justice we track all of our youth. We track success by keeping them out of trouble with risk assessment. We identify and then try to lower the risk for them

Each showcase over the month of April is at a different location. How do they differ?

The beauty of Prodigy is in its diversity that exists among the network. Each location represents what that community wants. Each showcase is very different and unique and show the diversity and talent of the children.

What are your hopes for the students once they are out of the program?

Prodigy is a training ground for these kids and we hope that through this program they are employable adults, productive citizens and using creative talents in their communities. The past fifteen years that Prodigy has been transforming lives have helped kids with their careers, college majors or whatever they choose to do with their talents.

 While attending the final showcase, the words that Trepper shared came to life through the work presented by the children, both through visual and performing arts. Works presented included drawings, paintings, sculptures, dances and musical performances. Along with implementing art into the children’s lives, Prodigy also provides other services such as tutoring for kids who need help in school. All in all, Prodigy walks its talk of “Transforming Young Lives”. For more information on the organization and events, click here.

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