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.
RANDY: This morning we learned about the Springfield Regional Arts Council's "Arts in the Park" program for kids at the Creamery Arts Center, in cooperation with the Springfield Community Center. This afternoon we'll talk about other educational activities at the Creamery, as well as find out about educational programs at Springfield Little Theatre and the Springfield Art Museum. There's a full slate of educational activities at the Creamery this summer, under the umbrella title of "Artivities," says the Arts Council's Education Director Addy McCord.
ADDY McCORD: This summer is the first summer we've been able to offer anything on a regular basis, because we have classroom space open and ready. So this year, in partnership with the Watercolor Festival and the Art Museum with "Watercolor U.S.A.," we've offered watercolor workshops for adults and for children as well. And that has been phenomenal, to get the kids in here, to get the adults excited about the Creamery. We had some of the Watercolor U.S.A. Honors Society members teach of couple of sessions: local artist Hing Wah Hatch, who has worked with us for First Night and Artsfest. And we have Rebecca Rutledge, who's a professor at Missouri State. She is teaching for Arts in the Park, and will also have an adult class starting in July. We're in cahoots with Springfield Pottery, with Nathan and Jen Falter. So we try to utilize the local talent that we have, and bring in special guests when we have the opportunity, like the watercolor workshops. It's been fabulous. The Ballet, who is a tenant here, they have dance classes here, and they're developing some ballroom classes for some more adult classes, which I think a lot of people are really excited about.
RANDY: So this really affords you the opportunity not only to have that educational component, but show the place off.
ADDY: Absolutely. A lot of people come in after they've signed up for a class and say, "We didn't even know you were here!" We are kind of hidden in Jordan Valley Park, but once they know we're here, it's "Well, what else do you have to offer? What else can we do here?" Which is great to hear--I love that! So we have all the little bodies down in the fountain, and they trickle up here to play, get messy here in the Creamery, which is great, that's exactly what this building is for.
RANDY: And in a way, I guess the more kids that come in, the more adults they will bring with them.
ADDY: Absolutely. We've had requests for... when the little ballerinas are having their dance class, "Why can't you have an adult class to kill the time?" (laughs) Which is a great idea, and we're working through those issues. Our audience is getting larger and larger each summer, each year. It's been great. The Creamery has been such a success.
RANDY: Springfield Little Theatre has participated in the Arts in the Park program all four years of its existence. In fact, they presented the first week-long program this summer, with a crew of four instructors including Little Theatre Education Director Lorianne Dunn.
LORIANNE DUNN: We were all asked to work with the Character Education Initiative with the Chamber of Commerce. So, since June's word of the month was "Cooperation," we had all of our activities centered around that theme. We worked a lot with improvisation, developing an ensemble and how everyone cooperates to create the whole. We did some musical-theatre dance training. We did a lot of visual-arts activities: they got to paint their own set and work on a backdrop. The week seemed pretty fine--you know, you have to work a lot faster, and maybe you don't accomplish the final product as much, but the time that you're here is really significant. This year they're doing one big performance in August... and we know that, being the lead-off group, they might not retain so much by August! So we didn't feel so much pressure. It was more about the experience they were having right at the moment, than what the final product was going to be. So we'll all come back for a day in August to spiff up something to present to the community. We'll present some improve and a musical-theatre number from "Once On This Island"--they learned "Mama Will Provide."
RANDY: But Little Theatre has also sponsored their own in-house educational program for many years, says Lorianne Dunn.
LORIANNE: We have our "Summer Stages" program June 19th thru 29th. It's open to ages 4 through 18, and the kids come and they work on a script that they will present informally on the last day of the workshop here at the Landers. This is the first summer that we're going to have the workshops here at the theatre--previously we've been at Springfield Catholic (High School), but this year we're going to have it right here, in-house. They also learn musical-theatre song and dance; everybody gets a t-shirt, and snacks are provided each day. They get to paint a set for their show. You can think of it kind of like an introductory workshop. They are here three hours each day. And then in July we're doing something brand new this year, called the "Summer Institute." And it's for kids that have already had some experience--either they've done our Summer Stages program before, or they've been involved in productions here at the Theatre. And they're going to get an all-inclusive experience where they work with a different guest artist each day, and so they'll learn about costuming, makeup, marketing--everything that's involved in putting on a production. They will be hands-on with all of those aspects, as well as rehearsing for a show, and they'll actually do a full weekend of public performances here at the (Landers) Theatre. That will be "Jungle Book Kids."
RANDY: Those will be ticketed performances, I guess.
RANDY: That'll be in July. You offering anything this summer for adults?
LORIANNE: We have a couple of different classes going on. We have a Musical Theatre workshop, which is what we call a "triple-threat course"--they work on cold readings, (dancing) and presenting a song. So it's really helpful for audition prep. An then we have an adult Acting class as well. And those classes just meet one hour once a week.
RANDY: Are those all through the summer?
RANDY: The various Springfield Little Theatre youth performing ensembles provide a major educational component for kids who are really serious about theatre.
LORIANNE: Tuesday August 1st at 7:00(PM) we'll be having auditions for our performing ensembles: our "Young Artists" (elementary students), our "Youth Players" (for middle-school students), and YESTroupe, for high school. And those kids meet once a week and then represent the Theatre at numerous community events, and then a couple of different big shows each year here on this stage.
RANDY: For the most part the Springfield Art Museum does NOT do educational programs at the Creamery, but as the Museum's Education Director Dan Carver explains, they already offer some 20 or more courses for adults and children at the Museum on a year-round basis.
DAN CARVER: We are basically self-contained in that respect. We are providing all these classes on a full-time basis, and so consequently we don't have the opportunity or the instructors available to do further participation. We do classes in the fall, the winter and the spring, and those classes run for 10 weeks. And then we do a five-week summer class, but they're concentrated during the week--twice a week they meet, so consequently students are getting as much contact time with the instructors as they are in the other three periods.
RANDY: So what classes are being offered this summer?
DAN: We've got classes for both adults and children. In children, we have mask-making, we have painting and drawing, we have jewelry making, cartooning. And we have a class called "Art Safari," where the children are exploring the arts of different cultures and are introduced to works related to those cultures they explore. In the case of adults, we've got figure drawing, we've got beginning drawing, and we have watercolor. We also have pottery classes but most of those classes have already filled.
RANDY: Right, the classes tend to fill pretty quickly at the Art Museum, don't they?
DAN: Yes they do. The pottery classes in particular are very popular and so they fill very quickly. They enrollment in all our classes is kept very low--the maximum number of students is twelve. But in the case of pottery it's eight students, so you can see they fill much faster.
RANDY: Now, your classes start for the summer in July, right?
DAN: That's correct, the classes start July 5th. There are other classes that begin on the 6th, it depends on whether they are a Tuesday/Thursday or a Wednesday/Friday class. And they are all over by the 8th of August.
RANDY: And who teaches these classes?
DAN: We have a variety of individuals that come from the community, that teach these classes. Most of them are not only practicing artists, but they also have degrees in art and art education.
RANDY: You teach any yourself?
DAN: Unfortunately, I don't have the opportunity to do it right now, because I'm supervising all of the OTHER classes, which keeps me very busy!
RANDY: Do you do classes in art history and art appreciation?
DAN: We don't have any classes at the present time that address those specifically. However, in a number of the classes, various aspects of art history and art appreciation are introduced as a part of the projects that the students are working on.
RANDY: Well, even aside from the classes, then, do you feel that the Art Museum itself offers something in the way of art education?
DAN: Oh, definitely. That comes about not only in the Gallery Talks that the Museum offers, but also the tours which are provided by the Docents. And so there's a lot of art education going on in that respect.
RANDY: Let's talk a little bit about the Docent program. They definitely have to have a certain amount of background in art history.
DAN: Yes, they do. And in addition to the background that they may have, they go through 30 hours of training with me before they actually are providing any tours to the public. And so, a great deal of additional art appreciation, interpretation of works of art, and art history, are provided in these training sessions.
RANDY: These tours that the Docents lead, are they for individuals, or are they for groups? Can individuals actually arrange for tours just on their own?
DAN: To do a one-on-one tour is not possible. We would request approximately ten individuals, whether adults or children, for a tour. We are preparing some materials that individuals can take on their own as they go through the Museum, which will help them to interpret the works of art. Generally tours are scheduled for approximately 10 individuals for a Docent-led tour.
RANDY: If you'd like information on any of the Springfield Regional Arts Council's activities and programs, call 862-ARTS (2787) or visit www.springfieldarts.org. For information on Little Theatre's classes, and those youth-ensemble auditions on August 1st, call Lorianne Dunn at 869-3869, ext.21, or online at www.springfieldlittletheatre.org. And you can call Dan Carver at the Art Museum at 837-5700. Find their web page on the City of Springfield's website, at www.ci.springfield.mo.us/egov/art/index.html.