THE IMPORTANCE OF ARTS EDUCATION: ARROWMONT’S COMMITMENT TO YOUTH PROGRAMS – PART 2

In response to Covid-19, Arrowmont will continue the important tradition of ArtReach and ArtReach on the Road youth programs this fall by providing a new, Virtual ArtReach Program to five elementary schools in Campbell County and ten Sevier County Schools, reaching over 1,100 2nd – 12th grade students.

Virtual ArtReach on the Road takes the form of individual art kits delivered to each school. Each kit contains all of the materials and unique equipment required for one of five virtual workshops: wet felting, embroidery, clay (air-dry), weaving, and watercolor & collage. Instruction is provided through a YouTube video that can be played inside the classroom and instructional handouts.

ArtReach and ArtReach on the Road impact children’s lives in immeasurable ways. After more than a quarter century of programs, Arrowmont now meets parents who were “ArtReach kids” 25 years ago and take pride in knowing their children will create their own ArtReach memories. To see a child learn a traditional craft through an immersive day of art education is to witness a transformative experience. Craft education enriches lives for kids and adults alike – building confidence, creating community, growing skills, deepening appreciation for the culture and traditions of Appalachia. This year more than ever the ArtReach programs bring incredible opportunities for young people whose education looks completely different from anything they’ve experienced before. For the first time, ArtReach and ArtReach on the Road students receive materials to keep and can continue making artwork after the class is complete.

In the following essay, Youth Education Program Manager, Kelly Hider speaks to the importance of arts education, and how Arrowmont is dedicated to its valuable youth programs.


THE IMPORTANCE OF ARTS EDUCATION: ARROWMONT’S COMMITMENT TO YOUTH PROGRAMS

KELLY HIDER, YOUTH EDUCATION PROGRAM MANAGER

Click here to read PART 1 of this two-part essay

“I will wear it all the time.” – Halie, ArtReach on the Road student, (Swain County, NC)

“Block printing was my favorite!” – Emily, ArtReach on the Road student, (Hamblen County, TN)

Two notable Arrowmont outreach programs, ArtReach and ArtReach on the Road, connect youth in Sevier County and throughout the Central Appalachian region to historic craft practices and their cultural heritage through one-day immersive craft workshops.

With its distinguished ArtReach programs, Arrowmont is continuing a 105-year tradition and goal – educating Appalachian children. In existence for over 25 years, ArtReach, Arrowmont’s local community outreach program has reached over 25,000 Sevier County students.

The program is rooted in the belief that access to art and arts education is vital to children and their development, and aligns directly with Arrowmont’s strong value that art is for everyone, regardless of age, social and economic status, skill-set, or education level.

ArtReach provides a full day of arts and crafts instruction to students 2nd through 12th grades. Since its establishment in 1992 as a rural arts outreach initiative, ArtReach has made a significant impact on the community. Some ArtReach students have gone on to become working artists, others have become teachers, business owners, doctors, lawyers, elected officials, and most important, contributors to our communities. Previously limited to Sevier County Schools, ArtReach has recently expanded to school districts and arts organizations across six Central Appalachian states.

The newly developed outreach initiative, ArtReach on the Road is designed to help modern students in six different Central Appalachia states appreciate their culture and the importance of craft in their daily lives.

It also addresses the preservation of traditional craft knowledge — connecting traditional practitioners with future generations, through immersive instruction. Only in its second year, ArtReach on the Road has already reached over 1,300 students in eight Appalachian counties.

Both ArtReach programs provide a full day of art instruction to public school students. Students develop new skills, learn arts vocabulary, and take home a craft object that they have made from start to finish. The program offers workshops in a range of media including wood, clay, sculpture, needlecraft, basketry, weaving, leather, and many others that have a significant history in Appalachia. Witnessing the proud, empowered students board their school bus at the end of the program each day, cradling their finished projects with beaming smiles, is testimony enough to the power of these programs.

ArtReach on the Road student responses to the question, How did this class make you feel?

“Happy and proud of what I accomplished.” – Anonymous, ArtReach on the Road student, (Hamblen County, TN)

“It taught me how to be patient.” – Dayami, ArtReach on the Road student, (Hamblen County, TN)

“It made me feel good about myself.” – CJ, ArtReach on the Road student, (Jefferson County, TN)

 “Like I was a pioneer.” – Novie, ArtReach on the Road student, (Graham County, NC)

“I’m not sure what to call it except awesomeness – through the whole thing.” – Rosie, ArtReach on the Road student, (Swain County, NC)

 “It was fun and I will remember it.” – Alden, ArtReach on the Road student, (Swain County, NC)

“The experience [of teaching in the program] was so fulfilling for me. I saw several students advance from “I can’t do this” to being confident in their abilities to perform even advanced projects. It is so wonderful to see that transformation in just a few hours.” – John Polly, ArtReach on the Road instructor, (Campbell County, TN)

 

ArtReach on the Road is not only an immersive creative experience for Appalachian youth – the program makes a wider impact on the communities it serves. The student’s experience in the program is shared at home with their parents and grandparents, sparking dialogue about craft’s relationship to their family history. Local economies are impacted – whenever possible, materials are purchased at local vendors and art stores in the community. The program supports important arts councils including the Rose Center, the Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center, and LaFollette Recreation Center. Local artists and traditional artisans are hired as the program’s instructors – which both supports the local art community and enriches the student’s appreciation for the culture in their own area. This aligns with Arrowmont’s strongly held value that teachers are one of our most vital resources – they play a role in shaping the future. Having been selected to participate in the program because of their geographic location, this program also encourages the community’s pride in their Appalachian heritage.

 

“My experience with Artreach on the Road was life changing. The students weren’t just interested in needlecraft, they were inspired. Their excitement towards my craft inspired me to take what I learned at Artreach and share it further within my community. I have since directed my focus more toward teaching and offer sewing activities and workshops at local festivals, community events and businesses.” – Lauren Houser, ArtReach on the Road instructor, (Sullivan County, TN)

One healthy sign of a community is the ability to preserve and invent culture, as well as value the arts. Arrowmont’s robust Youth Programming and outreach initiatives affect individual students in both small and profound ways, but also support the health and vitality of many Appalachian communities. The thousands of children that Arrowmont’s Youth Programs have touched over the decades have all experienced that sense of pride and accomplishment through art-making, and bring that experience with them as they continue their journey into adulthood. Arrowmont takes pride in its role shaping future generations with a greater sense of cultural awareness and pride, tolerance and confidence, and a deeper relationship to the arts.


COMMUNITY CLASS REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR FALL 2020

Most classes welcome students at all levels however a few require experience or specific skills. Any information regarding required skills will be included in the class description. Those with more experience are welcome to join any class with the understanding that they will participate in class projects and use the materials and equipment provided within the format of the class.

Community Class workshop materials will be provided and that cost is included in the class fee.

Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-registered basis. Class size is limited – early registration is recommended. Registration is by phone at 865-436-5860, opening on September 28, 2020.

We want our community members to be with us and have the Arrowmont Experience this fall. In order to offer Community Classes this year, Arrowmont is implementing a number of health and safety guidelines to ensure that all students can enjoy their workshop experience. We are trying to keep everyone safe by following recommended safety best practices and all federal and county mandates regarding masks, social distancing, and shared spaces. If you have any questions, please contact us at 865-436-5860.

For full safety guidelines and Community Class descriptions including Family Day workshops and Holiday Classes, visit https://www.arrowmont.org/classes/.

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