The beauty of art is that it speaks to different people in myriad ways. Not only do the arts have the ability to bring one joy or spark innovation, they also help students develop innovative problem-solving skills, build self-confidence, provide a creative outlet for children, and a path for processing trauma – something that continues to be critical during the ongoing global pandemic. That’s why the Chatham Arts Council (CAC) has been working since 2015 to ensure the arts can remain a regular component of students’ learning. In partnership with Chatham County Schools and public charters in the county, the CAC is pleased to announce the 2021-22 season of Artists-in-Schools residencies.
This year’s Artists-in-Schools season will bring artists into all 11 public Chatham County elementary and K-8 schools, four charter schools, and the Virtual Academy, with programming primarily for fifth graders. Students will experience performances and take part in engaging workshops on a variety of subjects, building a connection to core curriculum content. Artists include Black Box Dance Theatre (modern dance), John Brown (jazz music), Diali Cissokho (West African music), EbzB Productions (theatre), Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana (Spanish dance), The Magic of Africa Rhythm (African drumming, dancing, storytelling and visual arts), Phillip Shabazz (poetry), and Mike Wiley (theatre). The season will run from the fall through April.
We, at the Chatham Arts Council, have seen first-hand how beneficial this program is. But don’t take our word for it. Here’s what participating teachers have to say:
- “Mike’s workshops provided a great transition and primer for my Black History Month music unit by providing a wealth of context.” – Teacher from Bonlee School, in reaction to Mike Wiley’s theatre workshop.
- “The way the workshop was structured allowed students to make constructive use of emotion while also creating a sense of shared experience. Meagan’s affirmation and modification of students’ ideas gave even reticent students confidence to share.” – Teacher from Siler City Elementary, in reaction to Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana.
- “The students really enjoyed getting to see and hear the different instruments.” – Teacher from J.S. Waters School, in reaction to John Brown’s performance.
- “I saw students be creative and willing to come out of their shell to participate.” – Teacher from North Chatham Elementary, in reaction to an EbzB residency.
And teachers are at the heart of this program. Fundamental to the success of Artists-in-Schools residencies is the ability for the artist and teacher to collaborate, ensuring that the interactive workshops leverage the arts to support learning objectives. This year, artists are using their craft to create opportunities for a deeper engagement with diverse subjects:
- Nationally known theatre artist Mike Wiley: social studies, writing
- Modern dance company Black Box Dance Theatre: mathematics, dance
- Nationally recognized jazz musician John Brown: social studies, music
- West African musician and storyteller Diali Cissokho: mathematics, social studies, dance, music
- Poet Phillip Shabazz: writing
- Spanish dance company Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana: social studies, mathematics, dance
- The Magic of Africa Rhythm, a group who focuses on the African concept of Ngoma, the “rhythmic thread” that links drumming, dancing, storytelling and visual arts together: social studies, science, dance, music
- Theatre production company EbzB Productions: social studies
The CAC’s Artists-in-Schools Initiative is made possible with the generous support of Chatham County, Women of Fearrington, R. E. and E. F. Crane Foundation, and many donors to Big Night In for the Arts.
We’ve raised $54,000 for all our Arts for Resilient Kids programming this year, and we’ve got $45,000 more to go. If you want to help bring a transformative experience to Chatham County students, we’d love your help! We are looking for partners at all levels–from $25 to $3,000 for a naming sponsorship at one school or even $25,000 to name the whole program for the year. Every dollar makes a difference.