Showing great resolve, R. Darden Bradshaw actually partnered her art department of her school with several organizations within her community that also included those of industry and business.
Not only that but she brought in the mayor’s office during this period to bring about new opportunities that put the spotlight on the art programs that showcases the efforts of students and teachers. It’s been important to her so see this kind of focus on this kind of relationship and the support of the organizations boosts this.
One successful application of this mindset is in the “Mayor’s 10” event where students were allowed to participate with their own personal expressions of the various cultures of Louisiana. The students’ works depicted the life and environment of the region featuring artwork of local flora and fauna such as alligators, egrets, shrimp boats, and all that makes that region unique. The art was displayed on stage as the students and their parents and teachers all took part in being validated for the effort and presentation. So successful this has been that it has gone on for 6 years and the mayor has promised to keep it going on.
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Engaging The Community
Another successful action was during a local nonprofit arts organizations event. It called for people of the community to glaze a ceramic bisque bowl for a small amount for the organization to raise money for the training of dogs for needy veterans and autistic children.
Both were suffering from PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It comprised of students that ranged from elementary to high school, and included sports celebrities and leaders of the local community as well as neighboring cities. The event was a day-long one and a joy to all. In the end it raised thousands of dollars as well as brought about a new awareness to the targeted support group of veterans and children.
Rinse And Repeat Successful Actions
Following the success of that venue, she participated in several more just like it that also included award ceremonies that featured local artists and students as well as their teachers.
This has been a stark contrast to the past when around 20 art teachers were in the community versus the 60 that exist today. It’s all due to the way the partnerships and strategies that were developed over the years and spread from one community to the next. This was all done to primarily focus the limelight on the art education programs in the city. Here’s a look at what they achieved and the way it’s been done.
Expand On The Formula
Creating Partnerships: Creating partnerships with local businesses, museums, galleries, and asked them to sponsor school district wide art exhibits. One can ask their own principal to become a sponsor or by rotating an art exhibit in the library, office, or even in the lobby of one’s school.
Exhibit: Use any area you can to show off a student’s artwork. Look for obvious places to display and look for unconventional areas too.
Enhance The City: One can have murals or sculptures or any kind of artwork put up for public display, not only in the school but the community as well.
Join Groups: Participate in local arts groups and other community organizations that contribute to the overall good of the community.
Make A Web Page: Nothing like making a webpage to showcase and inform people of what you’re doing and need.
Disseminate: Basically, spread the word with documentation. Fliers and posters should be sent to the media and important people and companies in the area.
The listed suggestions can be expanded upon as these efforts have been successfully employed and achieved.
Such approaches to bringing the community and the schools together with the arts is needed all over the country. There are several means by which this can be expanded and bring about further success.
The Rewards Of Responsibility
The key to all of this is the willingness of students, parents, teachers, and community leaders in administration and businesses to get together as a team and work for the betterment of one and all. It takes the ability and willingness to work together for mutual goals and not to let egos get in the way.
The benefits are a thousand-fold and it sows that all can participate without fear of ridicule or loss. The students learn that they can indulge in the arts and create works that not only brightens the environment around them, but also generate a general feeling of greater esteem for themselves and the community at large.
Given the power of social media nowadays, the works created and public venues can be captured on video and sent around the world garnering even greater attention and interest. For businesses this turns into a form of free advertisement as well as promotion and for those businesses and worthy causes that have websites, it means more website traffic that can lead to greater profits and donations.
It need not stop there. Contests and other competitions along with prizes, perhaps goods or services donated by businesses only sweetens the deal. Given time such events become local legends and allows for city planners to take advantage of the attendances and press. The local media benefits from the interesting content that boosts ratings as well as advertising rates. As a matter of fact, some media outlets might allow for extra coverage if the public so requests.
There are a myriad number of ways for a school system to gain the high ground regarding the use of the arts by students and their teachers. It’s only limited by one’s imagination.