• Program Training Academy to be held in Homer this month
By Christina Whiting
“By the time kids in Homer graduate, they may have experienced 10 different types of art by 10 different artists at 10 different key developmental stages,” said Asia Freeman, local administrator of the State’s Artists in Schools program.
Those are impressive numbers for a program started just 15 years ago with private seed from Lois and Paul Andrews.
Artists in Schools is a statewide program that bridges the gap between kids and working adult artists. In Homer, the program is a robust one.
“Artists in Schools is a trademark program designed by the Alaska State Council on the Arts, requiring a specific structure to insure quality,” Freeman explained. “ASCA has been the primary supporter with annual grants averaging $10,000 per year.”
Some 25 artists have taught in Homer schools since the program began, including Annette Bellamy teaching ceramic sculpture; Alison Warden teaching theater, rap and performance; Jack Dalton sharing storytelling, theater and performance; Ahna Iredale with ceramics; Lynn Naden teaching sculpture; Gail Baker instructing on mask-making and Eddie Wood teaching music and Latin partner dance.
Wood has been an Artist in the Schools teacher since 1980.
“I’ve taught more than 30 classes in Homer,” Wood said. “For some kids, the arts are where they find their place and I can help nurture this.”
Artist in Schools provides unique creative opportunities for youth to interact with working artists.
Susannah Webster’s daughter Bea attends Fireweed Academy and has taken several classes through Artists in the Schools. Susannah went through the program when in grade school.
“At McNeil Canyon Elementary School, I remember being taught by Leo Vait and Lynn Naden,” she said. “Even as a kid, I got how amazing it was to be taught by real working artists.”
Lisa Zatz’s son Eli has participated in the program for the past three years.
“The students are exposed to so many different art forms,” Zatz explained. “Eli has been able to experience each artist’s passion for their craft and has learned that art is a step-wise process that requires patience.”
Zatz also appreciates that the program takes place in the public schools.
“Every kid that’s at school gets to experience all the art opportunities. It’s a meaningful example of how art knows no boundaries,” Zatz said. “When the kids are working with the artists, they are all artists, speaking the same language, shedding any differences.”
Freeman works hard to continually expand the program.
“It’s important that we reinvigorate the roster of artists for the students, teachers and the administrators,” she said.
Every other year, artists gather for the Artists in Schools Teaching Artist Training Academy. This year, the training takes place in Homer from Nov. 8-10 at the Kachemak Bay Campus. It is co-sponsored by Bunnell Street Arts Center and Kenai Peninsula Borough School District with support from Alaska State Council on the Arts and Kachemak Bay Campus.
The weekend begins with a Keynote speaker Friday night, followed by a weekend of classes.
“Our Keynote speaker is Alison Marshall,” Freeman said. She’s a charismatic speaker, a dancer and Kennedy Scholar. She’ll present the latest brain research on movement-based learning to activate the arts in all media for global learning benefit.”
Marshall is coming to Homer as an Artist in Schools as well as presenting at the Training Academy. She’s a teaching and performing artist, choreographer, university professor and arts consultant who designs and presents dance and theatre based learning programs for schools, organizations and communities.
All Kenai Peninsula Borough School District schools from Nikolaevsk to Razdolna, Homer, Seldovia, Nanwalek and Port Graham are eligible, but due to limited funds, only the first 10 schools to sign up are served.
Artist in Schools units are typically two weeks long during regular school hours and include all students and teachers in the school. Bunnell Street Arts Center coordinates the local program and contracts with the Schools and Teaching Artists.
Schools pay an enrollment fee and provide art materials. Bunnell writes grants and presents fundraisers like Jazzline to fund the program and provides oversight and reporting to make sure ASCA’s standards are met.
Training insures that Teaching Artists learn the latest brain research, best teaching practices, Alaska Content Standards in the Arts and Artists in Schools protocol.
Teachers, administrators and consultants will lead the Training Academy that is open to artists from all genres. Upon completion of the course, participants will be encouraged to apply to the ASCA Teacher Artist Roster. Once accepted, they are eligible to participate in Artists in Schools residencies throughout Alaska.
On Friday, Keynote Presentation is at 7 p.m. at the Kachemak Bay Campus and is free and open to the public. Classes are Saturday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the fee is $50.
For more information, to view the weekend schedule and to register, contact Bunnell Street Arts Center in person at 106 W Bunnell Street, by phone at 235-2662 or email email@example.com.
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