Here’s some good news to begin our post this week: The Tucker Community Foundation has just announced an award of $750 to the WVHighlands Artisans Group for its STArt 2011 program. This grant will allow the Tucker County High School art department to buy art materials.
What is STArt? Why is there a need for grant money to buy art materials? Why is TCF awarding the grant to the WVHighlands Gallery? And for that matter, why STArt?
First, what is STArt? It stands for “School-Town Art,” a program now going into its third year with a broad purpose to unite the schools and communities of Tucker County in cooperative art education projects. STArt has engaged a group of more than 25 Community Advisors to guide its program development. The first STArt project in 2009 was an eight-week class in pottery for a select group of TCHS students. In Spring 2010 STArt sponsored a Student Art Exhibition and Competition involving 45 TCHS students. In 2011, STArt will again invite the public to a student art exhibition and competition; Tucker County students at all levels will be encouraged to participate, and prize-winning students will advance to participation in a late Spring Gallery Walk in local art venues.
Second, why is there a need for grant money to buy art materials for the high school? Simply put, the school budget does not currently meet the need. As part of both the 2009 and 2010 projects, STArt collected private and corporate contributions to support the purchase of school art materials as well as to seed future STArt projects. TCHS art teacher Linda Moser says, “It’s really important for my students to have good quality art materials to use in their class projects. I try to provide instruction in multiple art mediums, but with approximately 65 to 75 students, it’s a tremendous challenge to provide sufficient materials for all the students to find the means of expressing their inspiration and vision. This grant is such a boost for them! It allows us to go in directions that would be impossible without your support.”
To reflect a moment on the importance of materials, think about what Ben (aka Gandolfthe5000ator) wrote in his post on “Craft.” Ben cites those moments of inspiration when the person (mind) and the medium (art material) become one. The arts require a medium of expression. We as a community can’t expect or encourage our students to learn an art without materials. That’s a fact of life that we have addressed from the STArt (bad pun intended).
Now, to address the third question, why is the Tucker Community Foundation awarding the $750 grant for the purchase of art materials to the WVHighlands Artisans Group? It’s because the WVHAG initiated the STArt program as their educational outreach, a mandate of its 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit artists cooperative, which allows it to accept public and private contributions in support of that mandate. We said above that STArt’s broad purpose is “to unite the schools and communities of Tucker County in cooperative art education projects.” STArt is a channel for Tucker County to support art as a part of community life, and in so doing to provide what we need to create and sustain a healthy and vibrant community. “Support” doesn’t just mean “to give money.” John’s post about “Thomas as a Microcosm” talked about the thriving art and music venues in our towns—the homegrown ventures that provide outlets for local arts activities—and how important it is for them to work together. STArt is a vehicle for anyone to join that work.
And now for the ultimate question: Why STArt? While it certainly was initiated to encourage and value the contributions of all kinds of artists, and to involve the community in providing instruction for youth to become part of an arts culture, STArt nevertheless is not focused on training young people to become professional artists. Seth, in his last post, really addresses STArt’s most basic value to the community when he writes that “art can prompt one to consider the minds of other folks.” He says that building community isn’t just about agreeing but about “understanding one another and seeing other view points,” and ultimately that “art highlights this and reminds me pay to attention to the fact that we’re sharing this world.”
Art as a vital part of a rounded education. Art instruction with proper materials at hand. A vehicle for community participation and involvement. And a community where art is vital to working together in respect of the way others see the world.