Supporting Local Artists and Arts Education with PVFs Visiting Artist Grants

A lack of arts funding in the public school system means that teachers often have to forgo arts education, including not being able to take advantage of local artists and all that they can teach. PVF’s Visiting Artist in the Classroom Program addresses this by providing grants for teachers to tap into the artistic expertise of community members to pass their skills on to youth.

Some teachers request Visiting Artist grants to teach students about art history, a subject they may otherwise not be exposed to. For example, one teacher at Edna Brewer Middle School received a Visiting Artist Grant to bring in professional art historian Warith Taha as part of their Art History Program. Through this program, students received weekly art history lessons to learn about art movements, artists, periods, forms and styles. For one project, students learned the magic and history of moving ink across a plastic surface to create abstract art.

Sometimes, these grants use art as an avenue to teach students about important themes. For example, a Visiting Artist grant was provided so that New Highland Academy and RISE Community School could collaborate on a school mural focused on the theme of resiliency. Working with local professional artist, Fernando Hernandez, students gained technical experience, helped beautify their school, and collaborated with their peers. Their teachers reported back to us: “This grant enabled us to build community like never before! The lives of my young students have been enriched in ways that we never thought possible.”

Visiting Artist grants are also used to enhance the teaching of other subjects. Learning from professional potter Tammberline Burnwell, 5th graders at Orion Elementary learned how to throw clay as part of their social studies unit on the 50 states; each child was assigned a state to study and then create from clay. At the end, all of the states were pieced together like a giant puzzle.

Most importantly, however, Visiting Artist grants help youth discover new creative abilities – and in turn, confidence. At Ruby Bridges Elementary, for example, students spent the year working with art professional Mandie Cline to create a variety of projects. Throughout the year, students discovered that each of them has the power to create art. The teacher shared with us: “Having art this year made teaching the other subjects easier because students now had an outlet for their expressive and creative ideas. The art my fourth graders produced made me realize what I had been missing as a teacher, art.”

These are just a few examples of the many Visiting Artist grants we funded this fall and the impact they have had. Recognizing the importance of these grants, the program donor has generously expanded the program to San Francisco County this year!

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