Visiting Artist Grant Funds Steampunk Set Design and Choral Music Lessons
Philanthropic Ventures Foundation’s Visiting Artist in the Classroom Grant program offers $500 grants for teachers to invite artists (e.g. painters, sculptors, wood carvers, weavers, musicians, dancers) or art historians to visit their classrooms and lead fun, hands-on art projects. Made possible with funding by the Geballe Family, this program is working to fill a large need and makes a difference in the number of students who receive inspirational, quality arts education. Interactive workshops from professional artists in the community are motivating to students and increase both student and teacher morale.
At East Bay Innovation Academy (EBIA) in Oakland, the Visiting Artist Grant funded workshops led by industrial artist Ken Griswa during the school’s Winter “STEAMFest Innovation” Intersession, wherein students engage in hands-on learning and participate in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math projects for 1-2 weeks. This past winter, some sixth to eighth grade students elected to construct interactive art pieces as part of the set and stage design for the school’s spring musical, Peter Pan, and EBIA invited Ken to lead the students in design fabrication, testing, modification, and installation as they worked to bring the Darling house and Neverland alive—with a steampunk twist. Ken noted students’ immediate interest in the undertaking, from the first day of initial brainstorming of ideas to students saying, “Can we just start?” on the first day of production, getting to work on a two-sided backdrop and moveable set pieces.
At La Escuelita Elementary, the Visiting Artist Grant allowed Julie Haydon from Cantare Con Vivo to visit two first-grade classrooms to lead music lessons, incorporating songs and singing games from around the world so that students learn about different cultures and histories that reflect the diverse population of their community in Oakland. “First grade is the perfect time for students to lay a musical foundation that will prepare them not only to become lifelong music lovers, but also to learn about the world around them through songs from diverse cultures,” said Julie. In her first few sessions with the students, she led rhythm and musical games and exercises, having students distinguish between loud/soft, fast/slow, high/low and keeping a steady beat for simple songs and rhymes. Teacher Marlene Gutierrez commented that after these lessons, her students become better listeners and have enhanced language skills and vocabulary.