Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New experiment: access to art for all

I have been thinking for the last year about…well lots of things. That is part of what I do I think deeply about things and try to find ways to solve them, meaningfully share or process it by making my own visually work.
Part of what concerns me as an artist is how
• much access do people have to the arts and at a basic level to art materials
• do people engage with art or do they?
• Art can be used as a vehicle to teach other things; open learning, communications, lateral thinking, civic and community spirit.
• the arts can support community development, social inclusion, self esteem, education, personal development.
...and that is before I get into my own mark making, where I try to make sense of my world and perspective through creative process and visual imagery.
If you have been reading my blog or following me on Facebook or Twitter you will know that I have been teaching art as part of an after school program at a local national school in Gorey. The age group is Junior and Senior Infants ages 4-6 years. The offer was so popular that the class filled up instantly and a waiting list was offered a second class. Which is great and I have been having a very good teaching and learning experience with twenty one children. I've been getting feedback from parents that their children love the class and comments from the children "I wish I lived in my art class" and "art class is better then treat day". I have also been asked by parents if I run classes to give them support on what to do creatively with their children at home. So I have been thinking about that.
I’ve been also been thinking about ‘how much access people have to art materials. I’ve had this idea for a year or so about getting families to make and create art work together in community and sports halls but I have n’t brought it to reality yet.
The next thing I wanted to solve was making art more accessible at the local national school where I am teaching the after schools art class.

This is what I proposed to the school principal:
I’d like to offer art in a more accessible way at the school and use it to build community also. The aim is to offer a creative session to all children in junior and senior infants and their parents or guardians. I would like siblings to be welcome also. I will need to have an idea about how many children/families are going to present themselves so I can prepare the space and activity. If we exceed classroom size can we have permission to use the multi-purpose activity room or the hall?
In principle I’d like to offer a donation/ honesty box system with a €5-€7 suggested donation per family. This is about access to art so I would like to cover my costs; time plus art materials for the session. If there is money after that it can be donated to art projects at the school or to fund the next ‘experiment’. I want families at the school to feel they can just come no matter if they can afford to or not. I do not want money to be a barrier. This has to be balanced with people valuing and respecting what is being offered.

This is what I propose:
An art experiment and your invited!
Children in junior and senior infants and their parents/guardians are invited to participate in an open art session with artist Roisin Markham on 25th March; 1.30-2.15pm, in the Art Room upstairs.
A ‘make and do’ family activity will be offered along with ideas for creative projects at home plus a focus on thrifty art supplies.
Suggested donation €5. An honesty box system will be in place. Book a family space by signing your child’s name on the board.

I'm delighted to say the principal has given the go ahead and the experiment will take place. I'll let you know how it goes.

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