From its hutong origins to its Sanlitun branch, Atelier’s journey has covered much ground in Beijing and inspired many young minds along the way. The performing, visual and literary arts school is now embarking on a new leg of that educational odyssey by opening a branch in Shunyi.
On March 28, from 11am- 4pm, the administrators will host a soft opening at the new location, inviting parents, potential students and community members to see all that the fresh facility has to offer. Teachers will hold a meet and greet at that time, and parents can register their children for classes.
Marianne Daquet, Atelier’s director and co-founder, tells Beijing Kids that she is “quite pleased”with the new Shunyi location, adding that it will have much more space than its cramped Sanlitun spot. The second, 200 square metre location will boast a dark room and an atrium where students can exhibit their work. “We built this new location from scratch,”she adds. “So it has much better facilities, and we designed it to have much more natural light.
Despite Daquet’s French heritage, Atelier Shunyi’s classes will mostly be held in English. She adds that: “We’ll have a few French classes, because we have some very talented French teachers. But the majority of the classes will be in English because that’s the common language of most the parents. And even the Chinese parents, who aren’t fluent in English, want their children to learn in an English environment."
The March 28 soft opening event will be followed by a one week holiday workshop, with an engaging Mayan theme, from March 30 to April 3. Five to eight year old children will be invited to attend in the mornings from 10am to 12pm, while children aged nine and above are invited to join from 1.30 to 4pm (the cost is RMB 1,500). Daquet, says the workshop will be fun and educational for children, adding: “We always try to give them a theme about a scientific subject, or a historical topic. Focusing on the Mayans this time will not only inspire the children’s art, but also help them learn about that civilization’s history."
Atelier Shunyi will then commence with regular classes on April 6. More information about those courses will be listed on the school’s website [http://www.atelier.cn.com] next week.
Daquet founded Atelier (which is also French for “workshop”) in a hutong courtyard shortly after arriving in Beijing in 2007. At the time her art classes were small and made up of mostly French students. She put those lessons on hold briefly when she became a mother, but eventually became concerned that her child would not have enough exposure to art education. That prompted Daquet, along with a fellow artist and parent with similar concerns, to partner and resume Atelier’s classes in the then new Sanlitun location in 2012.
Now, on the eve of Atelier’s Shunyi opening, Daquet says she is astounded by how far the school has come.
“When I was teaching those first classes in the hutongs, I never imagined that it would one day grow into a second school like this,”she says, adding: “I was just thinking the other day: ‘I arrived in China nine years ago, and I was just an aspiring artist trying to earn some money and live here. Now I’m opening a big school in Shunyi. It’s crazy!’”
"I’m so happy, I don’t know how to explain it,”she adds. “I love teaching, but I also enjoy running the school, and sharing my passion for art with these students and parents. It’s really exciting."
Atelier Shunyi’s address, along with information about its “ambassador program" (which rewards parents for referring new parents to the school) can be found here. Parents can email the school at email@example.com
Photo: courtesy of Atelier