Program helps children connect with the arts

Published 6:30 pm Friday, June 17, 2016

A new program to expose youth of low-income families to performing arts launches Monday.

Flower Child Performing Arts Center in downtown Washington will host an eight-week-long day camp promoting art education to local youth, specifically low-income and minority youth. The program provides a wide range of instruction related to performing arts such as musical theater, opera, jazz, R&B, African American spirituals and various genres of music, according to Elizabeth Payne, the arts center’s founder.

Payne grew up in a low-income family in Washington, giving her limited opportunities to follow her passion for performing arts and music, she said.

That is, until she moved to Washington, D.C., and attended the Duke Ellington School of Arts where she was a voice major. She has a B.A. in music, with a concentration in opera performance, from Chaney University in Pennsylvania.

As a former music teacher at Chocowinity Primary School, she worked closely with students to find a common interest in music, Payne said.

“I really mentor the kids, and I used music as a way to connect with them,” Payne said. “I worked with a lot of kids that come from broken homes and bad situations, and I used music and their interest as a way to get close to them and mentor them and their families.”

Payne decided to open the center to mentor and teach children about performing arts full-time, she said.

The program begins Monday, and runs through Aug. 11, Mondays through Thursdays, from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. The program costs $50 per week, but the organization is currently fundraising to provide money for low-income families, as a means for their children to participate, Payne said.

The Center will also host an afterschool show choir program when school starts again, giving children training in dance and music, as well as opportunities to compete across the state in choir competitions, Payne said. The show choir program costs $50 per month, and will be held from 4:30-6 p.m. several days per week.

“I think it’s imperative for the Beaufort County community to have a wide exposure to cultural and arts training because I feel like our minds sometimes can be so small and narrow when it comes to certain things, and we think only a certain group of people should be talented in a certain area,” Payne said. “Our youth can do these things if they’re given the chance and if that chance is affordable. I want to unify Beaufort County through the arts.”

For more information or to register, visit Flower Child Performing Arts Center, located at 222 Stewart Parkway, Suite 2000, call 252-623-2502, email at or visit