ARTS IN SCHOOLS
This year, the stages and gymnasiums were filled with excitement, music and fun for all the kids in the three-county area—Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey. TRAC was asked by the North Carolina Arts Council to oversee a Grassroots grant for Avery County (same grant that both Mitchell and Yancey receive). Now, for the second year, Avery students have had an opportunity to share in the wealth of arts experiences with performances for all ages. In 2016, TRAC focused its attention on the younger students and brought April Turner and her African Dancing Stories and “Little One Inch” by the Red Herring puppets to all the Avery elementary schools.
Across the border in Mitchell County, Deyton and Gouge Elementary and Greenlee Primary School students were thrilled over Hobey Ford and his apprentice, Ping Lin, as their foamie puppets talked over “World Tales.” And in Yancey County, each elementary school was treated to Brien Engle’s Glass Harp concert of stemmed glassware musical instruments.
And Red Herring Puppetry brought light to Mountain Heritage High School with “Electricity” while the Steely Pan Band beat up the Mitchell High School gymnasium floor with their steel drums.
Finally, Middle and high school students in Yancey were, once again, held captive by Mike Wiley’s interpretation of “One Noble Journey,” the story of a slave “shipping” himself to freedom in a crate bound for Philadelphia. Students in Mitchell’s Bowman Middle and Mitchell High Schools learned and listened and loved the Touring Theater of North Carolina’s production of “The Life and Times of Fannie Lou Hammer,” about a Mississippi sharecropper who was “…sick and tired of being sick and tired.” and wanted a better, first-class citizen’s life.
The Arts Council is all about arts and education and how both work the to advantage of the local community. The students soak up a lot of knowledge—historical information about different regions—all with a twist and a turn and a smile. They learn how the written word can fly off a page into a million directions and have a million different meanings. How a piece of foam can dance through the air, a stuff “toy” walk and talk and teach. How music comes from the stomping of a foot, the swirling of a glass rim, the beating of a taut skin, the heart. And it happens in their backyard.
Unless you’re a teacher, a student, or a parent, you may not know about the TRAC School Art Programs. Over the course of the spring and into the next school year, TRAC will continue to try to answer art and other teacher requests for artist residencies. Whenever possible, TRAC will try to work with the individual schools to give our students hands-on experiences, from one hour to one day to entire week’s worth of educational fun with some of the artists who live and work in our area.
TRAC is a non-profit organization founded in 1976 to promote the arts in Mitchell and Yancey Counties and funded in part by a Grasssroots Art Grant, through the North Carolina Arts Council, a Division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, Mitchell and Yancey County Schools, and the Yancey County Community Fund.