If you know the Chatham Arts Council, you know our passion for one of our flagship programs, Artists-in-Schools. But when the world became a different place and we all realized that physical distancing was the best way to keep everyone around us safe, the CAC invoked a burst of creativity to shift a beloved program into something that would work for us all.
One day, the clouds will lift and we will jump at the chance to escort our talented local artists back inside Chatham County Schools. Until then, we’re pretty psyched at our creative shift in programming. Want to learn more? Let’s dive in!
In partnership with Chatham County Schools and public charters, the CAC is providing virtual and physically distanced arts residencies to students focusing on resiliency through the arts. Resiliency is often thought of as toughness, or the ability to recover quickly from difficulties. This is a skill that we all could use, but it’s one that’s especially critical for children right now. With this overarching theme, the goal is to help kids feel seen in their experiences through cultural and historical context around challenge and perseverance.
“We are so very grateful for the support and collaboration with the Chatham Arts Council to provide the Artists-OUTSIDE-Schools Initiative this year,” said Amanda J. Hartness, Ed.D., Assistant Superintendent, Academic Services & Instructional Support Division, Chatham County Schools. “The residency program has been a long-standing tradition in Chatham and the pandemic put a wrinkle in being able to bring artists into the schools. The CAC would not let a global pandemic keep the arts down! They came up with a virtual format so our students could still meet and experience a variety of artists.”
Let’s Go Virtual! Monthly Artist Videos
Rather than bringing talented local artists inside Chatham County schools, Artists-OUTSIDE-Schools will begin by providing a virtual artist of the month video to be used with arts or music curriculum for third- through fifth-graders. There are a total of five virtual artists of the month – January through May – including Black Box Dance Theatre, Mike Wiley, Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, EbzB Productions, and one more to be confirmed.
Interactive Virtual Workshops
In addition, the CAC will be providing 37 interactive, virtual, artist workshops across the county—one for every fifth-grade class. Students will also experience the work of poet Phillip Shabazz and author/playwright, Howard Craft, in addition to the previously mentioned artists.
Traveling the County: Roving Arts Residencies Sponsored by The Jester Group at Baird
In addition to virtual artist performances, the CAC has found a way to safely bring artists to several communities for outdoor performances. These traveling artist performances will take place later this spring in four communities. While not an official partnership with schools, the CAC will concentrate these efforts for school communities, aiming to reach as many children as possible. An artist or artist group will perform on the back of a trailer as it moves slowly through each community, so that the artist(s) can perform and interact with kids and their families in a COVID-safe way. Pretty cool, right?
A Look Back: About Artists-in-Schools
Since the 2015-2016 school year, the Artists-in-Schools Initiative has brought professional artists into schools to support math, science, language, and history curricula. Through interactive, engaging workshops taught by theatre actors, performance artists, dancers, mural painters, African drummers, and strings musicians, students have unique opportunities for a deeper engagement with learning objectives.
In the school year prior to the pandemic, the CAC partnered with 21 professional artists to bring the Artists-in-Schools Initiative to all 13 elementary schools, reaching 3,506 children with 27 direct curriculum connections. We have a lofty goal to be in every school, every year, by 2025.
To learn more about the original Artists-in-Schools Initiative, click here.
One more thing – if you’re inspired by the impact teaching artists can have in a Chatham County school, please consider supporting this work. Click here to donate to this program.
Recent Artists-in-Schools Stories
- Artists-in-Schools 2021-22 Season Begins!
- Who Values Arts: The Jester Group
- Who Values Arts: Dorrie Casey and Archie Purcell
- Oh, What a Year! Virtual Artists-OUTSIDE-Schools Residencies Reach Nearly 2,000 Kids!
- ClydeFEST in the Wild 2021: Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way!
- Who Values Arts: Betty Wilson
- Taking Artists-in-Schools to Students Across Chatham with Online Arts Videos
- Artists-in-Schools: Pittsboro Elementary School Embraces Every Beat with West African Musician Diali Cissokho
- Artists-in-Schools: The Power of Ancient Dance Takes Hold of J.S. Waters School with Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana
- Artists-in-Schools: A Deep Dive into Civil Rights History and Literature with Mike Wiley
- Artists-in-Schools: West African Musician Diali Cissokho Unifies Students, Drumming to a Central Beat
- The Chatham Experience 2019: Exceptional Talent, Unique Collaborations, HOT Fun!
- Go See This: The Chatham Experience
- The Chatham Experience 2019: Save the Date!
- Artists-in-Schools: Curriculum Come to Life in Two Chatham County Elementary Schools