The cultural opportunities for young people in the Kennett area will expand soon with the opening of an artist retreat on Bayard Road.Barbara Montgomery, a veteran jazz musician most recently from Haverford, has purchased a large estate at the intersection of Sills Mill and Bayard roads and said she intends to operate a mentoring program where youth can come and work one-on-one with seasoned musicians, artists, poets and writers.

She said she has long worked for peaceful causes and is especially distressed with violence in young people. She said she believes that aggression is stemmed when kids find an outlet of expression in the arts.

"Where does violence begin? How do we deal with it?" she asked.

The answer, she said, lies in establishing this workshop where youth, especially inner city kids 13 to 17 years old, can come and stay in the presence of successful artists.

The payoff for the artists who will staff the center is that they will have the chance to create in a pleasant country atmosphere.

Montgomery said she is particularly distressed that the schools in Philadelphia have drastically reduced art and music in the curriculum and "physical education will probably be next." She's hoping her center, with weekend mentoring retreats for youth can in some way fill the gap.

Admission to her center is not automatic. Montgomery said a youth wanting to attend must write an essay be recommended by two adults and have a desire to be mentored and creative.

Montgomery was joined in a visit to Kennett Square last week by Michelle Dirks of East Fallowfield. Dirks is employed by the Chester County Art Association and runs an art-oriented program called Pegasus out of the Wilmington Boys and Girls Club.

Dirks said she hopes to work with Montgomery and other cultural and peace-oriented organizations in the area in the near future.

The mentoring center in Kennett Township will open next month if all the approvals go well, Montgomery said.

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