• Sitar's partners include The Washington Ballet and other key cultural institutions that provide students with access to high-quality arts education. with the Washington Ballet.

  • Israel, a Sitar student since childhood, hugs his mother during his senior performance in the de Laski Theater. The Steinway piano he performed on was also a generous gift to Sitar.

  • Students participate in Sitar's annual summer musical production. Theater.

  • Don and Nancy deLaski with Sitar Arts Center founder Rhonda Buckley.

  • The Summer Teen Internship Program allows teens to serve as mentors and develop key workforce readiness skills.

Patricia M. Sitar Center for the Arts

Arts & History

Employing arts learning as an essential vehicle in substantive youth development

Sitar Arts Center brings a diverse community together to give underserved children and youth the opportunity to explore the arts in an afterschool safe haven. It partners with volunteer arts educators and organizations to provide comprehensive arts education, nurture relationships, and set high expectations that enable youth to discover their artistic gifts and cultivate vital life skills. Through Early Childhood Arts, Arts Afterschool, the Arts for Teens Initiative and Camp Sitar, the Center provides a continuum of support spanning from infancy through young adulthood through programming designed to meet the unique developmental needs of youth of all ages.


Sitar Arts Center fulfills the artistic aspirations of underserved youth in DC by employing arts learning as an essential vehicle in substantive youth development. Eighty percent (80%) of Sitar Arts Center’s school-aged students, ages 6-18, come from low-income households, defined as 50% or less of the Washington region’s median income. By providing accessible, high-quality arts education to families that otherwise could not afford such options, Sitar ensures that youth are offered a promising arts-based alternative to otherwise prevalent and dangerous activities such as drug use, gang affiliation, and violence. In 2011, the crime rate for Ward 1, in which the Center is located and nearly half of its students live, rose 15%, the second highest increase in all of DC. The community’s continued struggle against crime underscores the critical need for Sitar as a safe and supportive space for the children and youth that face this reality daily.


The deLaski Foundation has helped Sitar to both secure and maintain its facility, ensuring that the Center serves as a permanent artistic home for underserved children and youth throughout DC. The Foundation’s recent multi-year grant has enabled Sitar to reduce its mortgage debt on this state-of-the-art educational facility and leverage the grant to begin the quiet phase of a mortgage reduction campaign. Over the last decade, Sitar has experienced tremendous growth, with its enrollment increasing from 50 students to more than 750 annually throughout its programs.

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