New Performers Academy director: Arts education can be lifeline for at-risk youth

Beth Reese Cravey

Florida Times-Union
November 27, 2020
Ebony Payne-English, the new executive director of The Performers Academy in Jacksonville, poses by a hallway mural at the school.

As a child, Ebony Payne-English learned to read with the help of Dr. Seuss books.

So she became a poet early on, performing her own rhymed compositions. Poetry was her first performing art.

“My teachers and parents thought it was cute,” she said. “It became my thing.”

Over the years, from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts to Florida A&M and the New World Conservatory School of the Arts College, Payne-English expanded her repertoire, including dance, theater, rap and spoken word. She tested her skills on school and community stages and found fellow performing artists and mentors, one of whom told her she had a gift.

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