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Alice Cooper once sang "School's Out For Summer!" But there are plenty of opportunities for arts education, both for kids and adults. Randy Stewart explains.
Even though "school's out for summer," as Alice Cooper once sang, one educational component continues to thrive in June, July and August. Opportunities for arts education and hands-on participation abound in the summertime, a phenomenon we're going to explore on today's installments of the KSMU "Sense of Community" series. Leading the way in summer arts opportunities is the Springfield Regional Arts Council, at their constantly-evolving and growing home base of the Creamery Arts Center at the east edge of Jordan Valley Park. Addy McCord is Education Director for the Arts Council.
ADDY McCORD: As the use of the Creamery got to be more of an issue, the idea of putting more classes, and using the space, utilizing the space well--
RANDY: As it was designed to be.
ADDY: Exactly, as an arts center--came to the forefront, I moved into the Education Director position, developing classes, developing the summer workshops even further. We work with artists to hold adult workshops here. We work with the Ballet to make sure that their area is suitable for their classes. So as Education Director not only do I handle classes here at the Creamery and handle the educational aspect, but we also take that outside into the region, outside into the community. So we do field trips and school stops, and cultural outreach that way: arts outreach, after-school programs. All sorts of things that we would like to do at the Creamery, but we don't want to re-invent the wheel. If they already have an after-school program going, then we piggyback on that.
RANDY: So you go to them instead of making them come to you.
ADDY: In some cases--like the CLICK program, which is the "Community Learning in Centers for Kids," which is a Parks program. They already had that going, they already had the audience at six different schools. And so we've partnered with them to bring more of an "enrichment" side to them. But during their spring break they come here for field trips and we got to do more hands-on, with more time here, and with local artists, which is a pretty neat experience for them. Like I said, as different parts of the building are opened for use we have more opportunity to have different classes, more classes, more in-depth.
RANDY: This is the fourth summer for "Arts in the Park" at the Creamery, which offers hands-on experience with the visual and performing arts, for kids from Berry School affiliated with the Springfield Community Center. Various local arts organizations provide workshop training for the kids, says Addy McCord.
ADDY: The five groups we're working with--Opera, Symphony, Ballet, Little Theatre, and Children's Choirs--will all do programming in the morning, and then we will have visual arts in the afternoon. From 10 to 12 in the morning we have the little ones, and this year we have a TON of little ones! We have in the range of 20 to 25 each morning come. In the mornings we have K through 4th grade, and in the afternoons we have about 5th through 8th grade. Each group is here for two hours a day. This year we've changed the schedule so each arts organization gets one week, and then we provide visual-arts programming after their week. So the Arts Council provides three weeks of visual-arts programming. The kids are here for eleven weeks; they started from June 5th and they will r un until the first week of August. Then we will have rehearsals, and then they will have their final presentation and their graduation. This is the fourth year, so we have some kids who will be graduated out of the program.
RANDY: About how many kids are you serving altogether?
ADDY: It's in fluctuation. It's about 40 to 45 kids throughout the summer. They have some high quality programming. So for example, last week they built sets like the Little Theatre did, and they learned some numbers from "Once On This Island." And they just get to do so much that they love it. They come here and they're pumped and ready to go, because they know what the summer holds for them.
RANDY: The afternoon I was there, a group of fifth through eighth graders were enthusiastically working away on visual arts projects in the Creamery's warehouse-sized scene construction shop--and they were equally enthusiastic about showing off their handiwork to this visitor... and getting a little time on the radio.
[A couple of kids yell "Hi!", and one asks: "Are we getting on the news?"
RANDY: Eventually--a couple of weeks from now.
KID 2: Are we on TV?
RANDY: No, this'll be radio.
KID 3: So people are listening to us on radio?
KID 3: Right now?!
RANDY: No, no, it'll be on a couple of weeks from now.
KID 1: Okay! Hey, my name's Trey, and I'm doin' my thing, know what I mean? Okay!
(The other kids laugh--one says, "You are SLOW, man!")
KID 1:My nickname is Trey Vizzle, so call me! Pretty girls out there, call me!]
RANDY: Addy McCord notes that this "fabrication studio," as she calls it, can be used for both set construction and classroom instruction.
ADDY: We had a silversmithing workshop down here, which was fabulous. We have both adult classes and kids' classes down here.
RANDY: So this class is what, exactly?
ADDY: This is "Arts in the Park"... this is the visual-arts week. Becca Rutledge is teaching it, and this is the older students, 5th through 8th grade. They're taking a picture and turning it into a painting this week. The results on this are pretty dynamic, too.
RANDY: So what are you working on?
CHRIS, one of the kids: Well, just pasting and painting.
RANDY: You've got watercolors and...
RANDY (to another kid): What's your name?
RANDY: And you're doing the same thing, cutting pictures out of magazines and...
IAN: Just drawing on it and painting all around it.
BECCA RUTLEDGE: Why don't you guys show him your pictures over there, the Poloroids you've been working with?
GIRL: Oh, yeah, okay! Come here...
RANDY: So what is it you've done here?
GIRL: Well, she took our pictures, and before we let it develop all the way we colored on them. We had to hurry up because they'll run out. And then we got to decorate around it the next day. But this is a Poloroid, yes.
RANDY (to another kid): And you've got one?
KID: Yeah, this is me. And she said we can draw stuff, so I drew a necklace... and that's supposed to be a hat, but I messed up!
RANDY: Local artist Becca Rutledge was leading the workshops.
BECCA RUTLEDGE: They're really talented kids. They're having a good time--we're working with mixed media generally. I don't even have to tell or give them much, they just do it on their own, once they've mixed the glitter themselves. I mean, I couldn't have explained it any better, they just take off with it. And then all of these--again, so creative and so colorful, so personalized, portraits of themselves, now framed and good to go. I think one of the most successful projects was the "Big Me" day, where we traced them and we worked on black paper with glitter, glue, and there's some really bright-colored portraits that you might walk over and take a look at.
KID: Oh, can I take you?
RANDY: Sure. So you laid down on the paper and they traced you out life-size, huh?
KID: Yeah. I did lots of things, like, I put a grille in my mouth, I put watches on my wrists, and did a lot of backgrounds. I like to be "stylish," so that's what I did.
RANDY: So this is you.
KID #2: It's like, we just like to do arts stuff, we just make our own things.
KID 1: Cool stuff, yeah.
RANDY: That's the whole thing about being creative: it's just, whatever looks good, whatever strikes you at the moment, just do it!
KID 1: So--yeah!