Focus on inclusion and diversity, the not-for-profit, the “Studio School of Design” in New York City received the 2022 Spotlight Prize.
November 24, 2022
The Studio School of Design (SSD) is an interdependent community of practice where experiential learning is embedded into a curriculum of design storytelling. It celebrates the full range of human cultural expression and identity and especially supports those who are and have previously been marginalized or excluded from the design professions. They see lighting design as a creative art form and are deeply invested in the potential of telling diverse and inclusive human stories through the medium of light.
The Studio School of Design’s vision is to increase collective knowledge and diversify access to the lighting design field across the places where we work. The school is a 501c3 Not-For-Profit community organization, seeking to provide equitable and inclusive low-cost classes both online and in-person to a wide-ranging pool of talented and motivated students.
This year, the 2022 « Spotlight » prize has been awarded to The Studio School of Design for its engagements towards education accessibility, diversity, and inclusivity. SSD is providing affordable (or free) learning environments and educational programs, preparing emerging lighting designers for the broad range of today’s lighting careers.
Photo by Rosalie O’Connor
The Studio School of Design began operations in the spring of 2021 with courses in Lighting for the Camera, Business Skills for Freelancers, Assisting with Large Scale Projects, and, importantly, a survey course of all the professions where designers work outside of the traditional theatre markets (65 students from 8 countries). They continued in the fall with courses in Video Content Creation and Pre-Visualization.
Additionally, they have offered free programs such as Pioneers of Light: The History of Women in Lighting Design (attended by over 80 online participants), Color and Light in a Mixed Source World, two Lighting Design Educator workshops for High School and University level instructors, and Networking events, both on Zoom and in person, to facilitate contact between designers, associates, directors, and choreographers. This spring (2023), the Studio School of Design will again offer Bob Barnhart’s highly successful Lighting for the Camera course, as well as courses in Vectorworks 3D and a Dance Lighting Intensive.
Photo by Rosalie O’Connor
One of their most exciting initiatives has been the launch of our High School Summer Workshop, a pilot program attended by 13 high school students, primarily from underserved school districts, for 4 days in the summer of 2022 (video of Students sharing their experiences). With the support of the Chelsea Factory and other donors, students participated for free in hands-on training in designing and telling stories with light. They are currently in the advanced planning stages for an expanded multi-week program targeting 40 high school students for the summer of 2023.
The Studio School of Design continues to offer online courses through Zoom, making course materials available to a large group of learners from around the world. They will continue to do so in the future and are currently looking for a space in Manhattan where they can offer face-to-face courses on a regular basis. Their future plans include developing a curriculum program that will provide in-depth study in a variety of fields and career paths for lighting designers.
In total, over 200 students/participants have participated in online and face-to-face programs since April 2021; 25% of online participants have received scholarships and all high school participants have attended for free.
The Studio School of Design is led by an outstanding group of individuals who bring decades of experience in education, design, non-profit management, media, equity, diversity, inclusion, law, and the lighting industry. Studio School of Design faculty come from the professional community and are focused on recruiting a wide range of highly qualified professionals.
We spoke with Studio School of Design President Mark Stanley and Vice President Clifton Taylor about their plans for the future of this inclusive and multicultural learning environment.
MARK STANLEY – Director, President (Photo by Rosalie O’Connor) and CLIFTON TAYLOR – Director, Vice President, Secretary
“As professional designers and educators, Clifton and I are intimately connected to the intersection of both worlds. Studio School reflects our commitment to providing opportunities for affordable, accessible training in lighting design and related fields. By expanding the pathways to a successful and more diverse, inclusive, education and also providing a gateway to the professional world, we enrich our community and the stories we tell through light and design“, shared Mark Stanley.
Talking about the ways the public and the industry can support their work, Mark added that the “Studio School of Design is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. We rely on contributions to achieve our mission and provide the affordable, and often free, education that is our mission. As a young organization, we need the larger lighting and design communities’ support in order to expand and grow“.
Photo by Rosalie O’Connor
Looking at this coming year’s program, Mark added that “When it comes to their upcoming projects, this spring they are offering 3 courses online: Lighting Live Events for the Camera led by Bob Barnhart, Advanced Vectorworks 3D Drafting, led by Nick Solyom, and a Dance Lighting Intensive, led by Mark Stanley. In addition, Studio School of Design offers networking opportunities and educator training at both the high school and university levels. In the summer of 2023, they will expand their High School Summer Intensive in Lighting Design to a two-week program with the goal of reaching 40 high school students. In addition, they will offer their popular Associates and Assistant Lighting Designer course as well as Business Practices for Freelancers.”
About Mark Stanley: Resident Lighting Designer for New York City Ballet, Mark Stanley has designed over 220 premieres for their repertoire including Paul McCartney’s Ocean’s Kingdom. He has worked with choreographers around the world including Peter Martins, Alexei Ratmansky, Susan Stroman, Christopher Wheeldon, Justin Peck, William Forsythe, Kevin O’Day, Susan Marshall and many others. His designs are in the repertoire of nearly every major ballet company in North America and Europe and his designs for George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker and other ballets and operas have been seen on Live from Lincoln Center and Great Performances. Mr. Stanley previously served as Resident Designer for the New York City Opera. His theatre work includes the Kennedy Center, Long Wharf Theater, Goodspeed Opera House, Ordway Music Theater, Paper Mill Playhouse, Maurice Sendak’s Night Kitchen and off-Broadway. Mr. Stanley heads the Lighting Design Program at Boston University and is on the Board of Directors of the Hemsley Lighting Programs.
About Clifton Taylor: For over 34 years, Clifton Taylor has created lighting, projection and scenic designs for theater, dance and opera companies around the world. He has also designed a number of unique concert music events for major orchestras, solo musicians and large-scale venues. His work has been commissioned on Broadway, Off-Broadway, regionally, and in seventeen countries outside the US. Clifton teaches design as an associate professor at UNCSA with additional extensive experience lecturing at NYU, the New York Choreographic Institute, and LDI. He has also had academic appointments at the Juilliard School, The University of Iowa, and the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh Cambodia. He has a long-standing interest in education and is also a current MA candidate in the Adult Education Program at ECU. Clifton is the author of the book on color for lighting designers: “Color and Light, Navigating Color Mixing in the Midst of an LED revolution” which was published by Ones and Zeros Media.
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