The Durham Arts Council has become a special place

Over the summer, Dr. Jessica Sperling’s 10-year-old daughter, Eve Smokoski, wanted to write a song.

Using Taylor Swift music as the backdrop, Eve began researching and scribbling lyrics about Indonesia to the tune of Swift’s song, “Blank Space.”

“Indonesia’s where I’ve been / I can show you incredible things / Snorkels, flowers, islands, swim,” Eve’s lyrics read.

Eve was captivated by Indonesia after taking part in a singing activity about countries at a Durham Arts Council performing arts summer camp in 2021. Ahead of the next camp this past August, she began writing her own lyrics to music with time off from elementary school.

For the Sperling/Smokoski family, a 10 percent discount that all staff and faculty receive on adult and youth classes at the Durham Arts Council has helped Eve and sister, Liddy, chase their love for creativity. Over the years, they have attended art summer camps, piano lessons, and other workshops. It’s where Eve fostered her love of writing songs, and Liddy took an interest in visual arts.

Jessica Sperling's children, Liddy, left, and Eve, right, show off their art. Photo courtesy of Dr. Jessica Sperling.
Jessica Sperling’s children, Liddy, left, and Eve, right, show off their art. Photo courtesy of Dr. Jessica Sperling.

“The staff who work there have always been really kind and warm, creative and fun, which is really a wonderful thing,” said Sperling, director of Applied Research, Evaluation, & Engagement for the Duke Social Science Research Institute.

Founded in 1954, the Durham Arts Council promotes access to, and love and support of, the arts through a variety of youth and adult classes, including pottery, visual arts, photography, graphic design, and more.

Registration for classes through December, such as ceramics, painting, stitching and calligraphy, is underway. The diversity of content is designed to help anyone, no matter age or skill level, discover artistic passions.

The recent summer camp became an outlet for Eve to continue to write songs, and this past summer, she shared the song lyrics about Indonesia with Durham Arts Council camp organizers. It was the first song she has shared beyond family.

Camp organizers loved it, and during camp, she and other campers practiced the lyrics in anticipation of the first public performance of Eve’s song. On the final afternoon in August, Eve and other campers sang the song together over an instrumental for their families. When it comes to fostering a love for expression, the Sperling family will continue to turn to the Durham Arts Council for inspiration.

“The activities they do seem to be really fun and engaging,” Sperling said. “My kids always really love it.”

Visit for the Durham Arts Council discount and a full list of vendor savings. Your NetID and password may be needed to access deals.

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