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(Audio fades in of art teacher JULIE TAYLOR-JONES) Is it my choice or your choice how many lines you put on your CD?
(Several kids chime in) My choice!
JULIE: That’s right! Because you’re the artist, aren’t you?
(One kid replies) Yeah.
RANDY: This morning we introduced you to “Growing Up in the Arts,” a collaboration between the Springfield Regional Arts Council, the Lighthouse Child and Family Development Center and the Springfield Community Center, to offer weekly classes in the visual, performing and literary arts for under-served and at-risk kids ages 3 to 13. Every Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 a vanload of between twelve and twenty 3rd- and 4th- graders comes to the Creamery Arts Center for an hour to be taught and mentored by working professional artists from the community. A two-year veteran of the program is 8-year-old Tatyana, a 3rd grader at Boyd Elementary.
RANDY: What kind of artwork have you worked on?
TATYANA: Leaves... painting circles... and we worked on making our names in shapes... and just making shapes on paper and then coloring with crayons.
RANDY: What’s fun about it? What do you like most about it?
TATYANA: I like most about it that you get to do fun art and fun things on paper. I like coming here.
RANDY: You like working with the people that are here?
RANDY: Well, what do you like about them?
TATYANA: I like about them that they’re nice, and they help you, and they’re respectful to you.
RANDY: That idea of “respect” resonates strongly with this little girl. Even more than the arts instruction, Tatyana seems to have been most impressed by the Arts Council’s emphasis on social interaction and civility—the “Be Civil, Be Heard” project.
TATYANA: We’ve worked on how to be respectful and always do what you’re supposed to do, and all of that stuff. In kindergarten and 1st grade I wasn’t so respectful to people, and I wasn’t so good of a drawer.
RANDY: So you’ve been able to practice that and get better with—
RANDY: --your drawing and your behavior, huh?
RANDY: Stephanie Cramer, Director of Programs and Exhibitions for the Arts Council, was touched by Tatyana’s comments.
STEPHANIE (to Tatyana): It’s so good to hear you say to be respectful, and to—(to Randy) –you know, she really follows directions well, and thinks about other peoples’ opinions. (to Tatyana) And it just delights me to hear you talk about that, because I think it makes all of our lives a little bit better.
RANDY: While it’s not just about learning how to draw and paint, the arts education these kids receive is vitally important to their future success, says Calvin Allen, Executive Director of the Springfield Community Center.
CALVIN ALLEN: Our goal is to provide after-school tutoring for children on a regular basis—five days a week they have homework assistance. Tuesdays they have the Creamery art program, which is a vital part of what we do. The art program does more than just teach children to draw pictures and color leaves. It in fact enriches children and provides them with enough self-esteem that they, in fact, in many cases learn to read here at the Creamery Arts Center—teachers spending time hands-on with the individuals. There’s a lot of education that’s involved in art. Of course, here at the Creamery it’s the full range of art—from visual arts to ballet to the symphony—that, in my mind, works with the left side of the brain, which in many cases is not something that our kids have real exposure with. And in many cases the kids that we’re working with, kids who come to the Creamery and get the art background, these kids excel academically—in many cases, going from two to three years behind in school to two to three years ahead of their own class and their own age group! Well, when you look at the statistics of kids prior to this program, there was a 55-60% dropout rate! That number has drastically changed. With the kids that participate in the Community Center programs we have not had a kid drop out of school in the last 10-15 years—oftentimes going into the upper classes, “Bridges” and other academic programs that are for the gifted children. We’ve had several children who have done very well, and gone on to college as a matter of fact. This program has been a part of what Community Center has done to enrich the lives of kids for twelve years.
RANDY: To learn more about the Arts Council’s “Growing Up in the Arts” program, visit www.springfieldarts.org.