Summer Arts Studio Class Copyright 2016 Todd Sharp
Story Education

What's the Best Way to Spend Your Summer? Let Your Inner Artist Out

Jeanne Ricci

Now in its 33rd year, the CSU Summer Arts program is a transformative experience for students and the Fresno community alike.

Summer Arts Studio Class Copyright 2016 Todd Sharp

Learn drawing and painting, become a ​more daring dancer, craft fantastical creatures in clay, and much more at CSU Summer Arts, held at Fresno State this July and August. Photo courtesy of CSU Summer Arts / Todd Sharp


What will you do on your summer vacation — study creature animation or how to perform accents? How about learning on-stage combat, or boning up on television storytelling? In short, if it's time to work on your artistic IQ versus your tan, CSU's Summer Arts program at Fresno State is your ticket. 

Now in its 33rd year, Summer Arts gives students and the public (anyone over age 16 may apply) opportunities for immersive experiences to hone creative skills, learning and working alongside top teachers and artists. (Select classes may still be accepting applications. Visit the Summer Arts Courses page for more information.) Summer Arts also provides the Central Valley community with access to world-class performances and lectures throughout the month of July, including concerts, readings, and lectures by a renowned lineup of guest artists.

Rachel Nardo, Director of Summer Arts, partly attributes the program's success to keeping things fresh. "Each year the classes change, giving us the flexibility to stay on the forefront of educational and industry trends," explains Nardo. 

"We build a curriculum that incorporates practical learning and side-by-side instruction from artists at the top of their fields. The relationships that are created within the program can change the course of someone's career."

Also on the docket this year are three international study opportunities: Contemporary Drawing & Painting in Florence, Italy; Romantic Lied in Trossingen, Germany; and La Guitarra Española in Granada, Spain.

"Summer Arts strives to be at the forefront of immersive learning experiences," explains Nardo.

"It's one thing to study art; it's quite another to live where it was created, to experience the culture of its origin, and to study alongside some of the most renowned artists in the field." Nardo says the relationship between Summer Arts and the Festival de la Guitarra in Granada, "gives our La Guitarra Española students a chance of a lifetime to perform in another country in front of dignitaries and the community alike."

A World-Class Festival in Fresno

Back in Fresno, the 2018 Summer Arts Festival starts off on July 2 with Spectrum Dance's newest work, H.R.3244, referring to the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. Founded in 1982, Spectrum Dance's mission is to bring dance of the highest quality to people from different social, cultural, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. 

The show explores the emotional response to human trafficking and exploring parallels to black slavery in the U.S. "The dancers are a select group of unique artists chosen and trained in Donald Byrd's singular approach to dance theater, [which is] physically demanding and emotionally charged," says Tanya Osegueda, Summer Arts' Community Relations Specialist.

Tickets to all events are on sale at

The last two weekends of the month feature Summer Arts students showcasing their new and polished skills during performances, readings, and exhibits that highlight what they learned. These are some of the most inspirational events of the season, as well as affordable: All are free and open to the public.

 To learn more, visit CSU Summer Arts.

Student Success