Black Swamp Fine Arts School, Developing Artists Since 2016

Tucked in Bowling Green, Ohio, between Main Street and Bowling Green State University lies the hidden gem of music and dance known as Black Swamp Fine Arts School. Sophia Jarrell, Director of Black Swamp Fine Arts School, was gracious enough to answer some questions about how Black Swamp Fine Arts School came to be and what type of music, dance, and early childhood educational opportunities they offer. 

Toledo Area Parent: Could you tell us a bit about how the Black Swamp Fine Arts School came to be? 

Sophia: Throughout my childhood and teen years, my family was heavily involved in many fine arts programs and activities—dance, music, choir, sewing, etc. During high school, I discovered my passion and aptitude for teaching as I was given the opportunity to pass on my knowledge to younger children. 

While pursuing a degree in violin performance in college, I created a business plan for a fine arts school for a project in my entrepreneurship class. Through the school project I realized that I could actually execute this plan. Two months later, I had signed a lease for a commercial space, filed my LLC, and built out the space with areas for arts instruction. In January of 2016, I launched the company with classes for students whom I was already teaching out of various spaces. Since then, we have moved twice into larger spaces and grown our faculty team and BSFAS family!

TAP: What sets you apart from other programs? 

Sophia: Black Swamp Fine Arts School is unique in that we are a central location for many areas of study in the fine arts. Because we value each of these areas in the fine arts we craft our programs to the best of our ability so that they are collaborative and integrated. 

From a logistical standpoint, this looks like scheduling events and classes across our programs that do not conflict with each other. This results in students who have the opportunity to study various areas in the fine arts—one of our recent graduates will be pursuing both music and dance in college!

In addition, we offer classes for babies, children, teens, & adults. We believe that while beginning training and exploring the arts is great as a child, there are also many benefits for participating in the arts as a teen and an adult! It’s encouraging to see teenagers who want to learn to make music or dance for the first time be provided a learning environment for that with other students their own age. I am always personally inspired by our adult dancers and Da Capo String Ensemble members who are devoted to their training—they always seem to be having a lot of fun in their classes! 

As a faculty team, we really enjoy integrating the fine arts in our classes. In our Early Childhood Program, students participate in music and movement/dance instruction in each of their classes. For our older students, we provide opportunities for musicians and dancers to perform live together. This creates a sense of community and more well-rounded performers. 

We believe that training in the arts improves cognitive function, develops good character, and provides creative outlets. And while we are enthused by the artistic abilities and growth in our students, their success as artists is not our highest priority. As a faculty team, it is our mission to strive to develop not only fantastic artists but beautiful souls through an encouraging and positive atmosphere!

TAP: Are there any upcoming events that you would like the public to know about?

Sophia: We should be announcing our summer camp and class options soon. Details for all of our programs and events are always updated on our website,

TAP: How is your program funded? Is there any type of financial assistance for families that are interested but cost is a barrier for?

Sophia: As we are not a nonprofit, our school primarily operates through the collection of tuition and the ticket revenue from public performances. However, many families have been granted tuition assistance through local and statewide scholarship programs that are available. We are happy that we often find ourselves writing letters of recommendation and preparing our students for scholarship opportunities. We do operate a small boutique whose proceeds are contributed to our own scholarship fund for current students whose families may be experiencing hardships unexpectedly. 

TAP: Is there anything else you would like to share? 

Sophia: Throughout the spring semester, we offer free trial classes for students. We love to meet families and see if we are a good fit for what they are seeking for the student. Trial classes can be enrolled in on our website. 

For more information about Black Swamp Fine Arts School, visit their website, or call 567-213-9998 to speak with staff.