Art summit helps students across the region work to help arts education in schools
The Arts Connect Appalachian Youth Summit allowed students to speak about arts opportunities and why it is important to them.
During an 18-month project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, students worked with Arts Connect Appalachian Youth and Partners for Education at Berea College, to showcase their artwork in various outlets.
Some of the works were through podcasts, poetry and blacksmith
The Summit allowed students from nine regional schools to come together to share their work and reflect on their time spent with Arts Connect Appalachian Youth.
"They're doing some hands-on art activities and having a conversation about including youth voice in our work to improve arts education," said Natalie Gabbard, Berea College Partners for Education Project Director.
Some of the students are hoping to bring arts education to the forefront and give it a permanent space in schools.
"Art is just as important as sports or academics. It's not something you should take away despite money or other inconveniences," said Hazard HIgh School student Justin Witt. "If we ever want to make it permanently in schools we have to make it competitive. And, the first step to that is to practice and re-do with practice."
A sentiment shared by some of the staff at the summit, as they have experienced it first-hand.
"I want to fight for the kids that you know, this is their thing. The thing that they're good at, the thing that they love, because that was me. I was really good at music. When the program got cut it was kind of like 'my favorite thing about going to school is gone,'" said Taylor Dye, Kentucky Arts Council Teaching Artist. "Not everyone can be scientists or you know, good at English. Some kids are just good at art, that part of their brain is the part that they are most successful with."
The program is something Dye said she hoped opened the students up to their own outlet, whatever that may be.
While the project came to a close, the mission did not.
"It may not look exactly like this moving forward. But, we would love to continue those relationships with the schools that are involved and keep those conversations going beyond this," said Gabbard.
If anyone has any questions about how the Partners for Education at Berea College can help with programming in their schools, they can contact Gabbard at (606) 438-7082.