ARTS IN SCHOOLS
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.
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. Toe River Arts 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, Avery students have had an opportunity to share in the wealth of arts experiences with performances for all ages.
During the 2018/19 school year Toe River Arts brought Silver Trout Arts and Donna Washington to all three counties. In Yancey county, we partnered wiht the curriculum specialist for Yancey County Schools to apply for a Healthy Arts/Healthy Communities Grant, which enabled us to bring Black Box Dance Theatre to all the elementary schoos, Kane Smego to the middle schools, and Pierce Freelon to the high school. 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.
We look forward to working with the school systems again during the 2019/20 school year to bring educational art opporutnities to the students in Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey counties.
Toe River Arts’s newest educational outreach program, Carousel, is designed for art teachers and students through a check-out system. After professional development time, the teachers are able to bring resources and materials back to their classrooms to share with their students. The program launched two years ago and has reached up to 360 students in Mitchell and Yancey counties’ middle and high schools. Toe River Arts aims to expand this community funded program in future years. With funding always a strain on the schools, Toe River Arts provides all materials and instructions for the teachers, leaving the pure joy of exploration to the classroom!
“I absolutely loved the experience, and my students did, too. It brought to them a technique that I would never have been able to let them experience for two reasons: First, I didn’t know how to do it, having never dealt with indigo; and second, the art department does not have the money to supply materials for this process. Win-win situation! “
-Keli Miller, Yancey County Middle School art teacher
Toe River Arts 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.