Virginia Newsome
POSTED ON MAY 14, 2012
BY SARAYA BREWER

SCAPA high school student; founder and CEO of heARTS for the Arts, Inc.

Virginia Newsome has been a lover of the arts since she was a young girl — she grew up in an art-friendly household and started singing when she was 7 years old.

“My grandmother was actually a Suzuki violin teacher; both my mom and aunt took violin from the time they could walk,” said Newsome, who first discovered her love for performing when she started ice skating as a girl.

As she grew older and more astute, Newsome — now a 16-year-old junior and theater major at SCAPA — became more and more aware of the boundaries that can stand between children and their dreams to pursue the arts. When she realized that budget cuts at Lafayette High School were affecting her school’s art programs, she started to think about other schools whose art programs might be getting hit even harder. When she heard that budget cuts at the north Lexington school Deep Springs Elementary had deeply affected its band, drama and choir programs, and that the schools were having to organize fundraisers to get supplies, she decided to step in and help. She set up a Facebook page to help rally support and collect donated materials for those programs — an effort that resulting in collecting more than 500 needed supplies for the school’s programs.

“Within a week we had all the supplies that we needed,” Newsome said. Attending a Hugh O’Bryan Youth Leadership program encouraged her to create a program that could have a lasting impact in her community; with the help of a family friend and attorney, she established the program as an official 501(c)3 last year called heARTS for the Arts. Another friend and SCAPA student, Joseph Wrightson, designed a website that allows arts programs — from Lexington, Appalachia, or anywhere else in the world — to register their needs online. The program relies heavily on social media to collect needed supplies, and Newsome arranges for them to get to the schools in need.

So far, the program has collected band instruments, art supplies, music books, theater costumes, writing pads, dance shoes and other supplies for schools in Lexington and abroad — Newsome has long had a passion for helping Africa and has worked on assembling care packages for Haiti as well.

As word about her efforts has spread, more and more requests for supplies from schools outside Kentucky have started to trickle in. Newsome is pleased to report that one of her friends from theater camp is working on setting up an additional chapter in Fort Worth, Texas.

As for Newsome’s future plans? She hopes to attend a Bachelor of Fine Arts program for musical theater, get a job as a Disney princess, and perform for the rest of her life — and she plans to start a heARTS chapter wherever she ends up going.

“Each request fulfilled is an accomplishment in itself,” she said.

Leading Woman of Central Kentucky