Arts Training Program for Teens
May 19, 2009
Lord, We Are ABLE!
Royce Vaughn named his California Collectors' Series for people who appreciate and collect fine art. The name he chose for his greatest success story with teenagers comes from the chorus of an old Methodist hymn, "Lord, We Are Able."
Make the last word a practical acronym, ABLE. "Arts and Business Learning Experience." In addition to describing what motivates him, ultimately it became a specific program for talented but unmotivated young people.
Art is his overriding passion. Every segment of his life has revolved around it. Business, oh my! that's the business of making passion profitable. Ask any artist from the beginning of time how that works. Learning, it never stops. Look at the bookshelves on every floor of this house. If a book has been written on the subject, he wants it. If it's not in its proper place, woe to the housekeeper who has moved it. Experience comes with the territory. Royce has always opted to be a trailblazer. And the territory has no boundaries.
Teaching Kids Film, Photography and Videotape
In the late Sixties at San Francisco State where he worked in the Audio Visual Department, Royce and philosophy professor Art Bierman conceived the idea for ABLE -- a film, photography and videotape training program for young people.
Networking is Royce's middle name. Soon he had partners like the Neighborhood Arts Alliance, the Redevelopment Agency, the Department of Labor and local corporations like Fibreboard and Kaiser Industries.
Ultimately the building loaned by Redevelopment at 2209 Bush Street was renovated with friends like Dr. Jack Noyes hammering nails and often applying dry wall late into the night. Opening weekend was stunning. Several hundred guests arrived, all excited about ABLE's potential. Professional filmmakers offered to teach. The phone rang incessantly. Eventually nearly $500,000 was raised in grants, including $250,000 from the Ford Foundation. And when it was time to move on, another building with expanded darkroom and meeting space was renovated at 641 Golden Gate with the same kind of enthusiasm, the same nail hammering, the same dry wall, the same intensity.
"Those students taught me far more than any professor I ever had!"
Throughout its ten years of life, students signed on eagerly as they learned about themselves and the profession. "They were so excited," Royce remembers. "You didn't have to tell them to come in early in the morning. They just did. Came in every day with things to do and places to go. They were up and down the street taking pictures from every angle. And they couldn't wait to get into the darkroom to see the results. It was a decade in which a great deal of happiness and fulfillment came through ABLE and those kids. They weren't just students. They were associates. Like students of the Greek philosophers, they were my teachers. They taught me far more than any professor I ever had. "
Go to boxed sets on the California Collectors Series main menu to see ABLE photos. Proceeds from sales of cards in the "Lord, We Are ABLE" and "Tuxedo Series" will go to The Salvation Army.
ABLE Christmas card featured
students and their work