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Art for arts center's sake

"When I think of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, I think of. . ."

That's what more than 400 kids had in mind when they submitted their entries for the "On School Time" Design Challenge, held in honor of the center's 10th anniversary. Students were invited to use all kinds of colors and art mediums: crayons, paint, chalk, colored pencils, magic markers, cut-outs, pastels, mosaic. The students who participated were part of the On School Time program, in which students attend theater performances during school hours.

So not only did they get out of school, but they were experiencing really cool cultural stuff.

"It gives kids a chance to see what else there is in life," says Paul Parone, 17, a 12th-grader at Gaither High School. Paul was one of the 27 Design Challenge winners. He first attended the center during On School Time when he was in ninth grade to see the works of Edgar Allan Poe.

Paul's artwork was combined with the rest of the winners to create a collage that was used as the center's 1996-97 10th anniversary brochure cover.

Everyone was so excited about the collage that they made a poster out of it, which sells for $5 at the center's boutique. Proceeds benefit the education department. Book covers and T-shirts sporting the same design are in the works.

There are lots of ways to get involved in the center. It has classes for kids and other cool things. For information, call 222-1047.

Compiled by Helen A.S. Popkin