Arts Champion of Mount Vernon



It was The New York Drama Critics’ Circles best play of 1959. In 1961, it became a film starring Westchester’s Ruby Dee and Sidney Portier. Then it became a Broadway musical in 1973 and ever since, it has been revisited, revived and acclaimed.  This weekend (Friday and Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 3pm), the musical version of the Lorraine Hansberry play “A Raisin in the Sun” will be revived on the Mount Vernon High School stage under the direction of Evelyn Collins.  Collins came to the School District in 2014 with a clear vision and mission – to bring the arts, in a meaningful and impactful way, to all students in Mount Vernon schools.  The “Raisin” performers are students of the Mount Vernon School District and its Arts Magnet Program, which Collins established for grades six through eight.  The program provides a full day of arts and academic experiences to the students. It also brings professionally-directed performances to the community to enjoy.  During her tenure, Collins has worked with ArtsWestchester to bring curriculum-based artist residencies to the district.

“Raisin” chronicles the tensions faced by an African-American family living in Chicago in 1951. When it ran on Broadway, the musical was nominated for nine Tony Awards and won two – Best Musical and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical (Virginia Capers). Collins noted: “The talent of our students is beyond amazing.” Her words validate the long-held belief that the arts are significant, bring us closer together and allow students and families to experience learning through multiple modalities.

ArtsWestchester education leader, Felicia Liss Block, echoes these sentiments. “Since beginning work with ArtsWestchester three years ago, I’ve worked closely with the Mount Vernon City School District, and one of my greatest pleasures is getting to know and work with Evelyn Collins, the District’s Director of Arts and Gifted and Talented for the District.” Block implements the AEMDD federal grant where she coordinates artist residencies and professional development programming with the Mount Vernon City School District in partnership with ArtsWestchester.

Let’s hear the applause for the Mount Vernon School District and its Arts Champion Evelyn Collins!

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