ITHACA, N.Y. — A local summer program will have its grand finale Thursday. For four weeks, a performing arts camp at Southside Community Center has been letting kids express their creativity and gain confidence through performance as part of the Community Unity Music Education Program.

“CUMEP is like the summer camp you wish you had when you were a kid,” counselor Maddie Carroll said.

Photo gallery: 50 photos from Southside Community Center’s 14th annual CUMEP concert

From 8 a.m. to noon over the past four weeks, kids have come together to learn how to play different instruments, dance and sing — and along the way have made friends and learned a bit about themselves.

The program is built on three pillars, CUMEP founder Fe Nunn said.

“Building self esteem, self imagery, love for oneself; academic success; and social and civil responsibility,” Nunn said.

This year marks the 15th year of CUMEP. The education program provides low- to no-cost music, media and arts instruction to local youth. It was created in 2002 in response to a lack of quality, affordable, extracurricular music and arts education in the area. The program especially targets low-income youth of African American, Latino, Asian American and Native American background, but is open to anyone.

The finale of the camp will take place at 5 p.m. Thursday at Southside Community Center.

“It is designed to bring the entire community together to see that kids love themselves and love each other and support each other through the vehicle of performing arts,” Nunn said.

Watch a video below for a behind-the-scenes look at CUMEP. Video by Jacob Mroczek/The Ithaca Voice.

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Featured image: File photo of 2017 CUMEP Performance. (Alyvia Covert/The Ithaca Voice)

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.