Festival of the arts.
The first step in planning the festival was to figure out an effective schedule. We decided to hold our festival in March so it would correspond with Youth Art Month. Holding the festival in March had another advantage: Students would soon be registering for their fall semester courses. They had the opportunity to find out about our program before the chose their fall classes. In fact, we have seen an increase of enrollment in this program since we began the festival in 1985. We believe that student involvement in festival activities is directly responsible for this increase.
About a month before the festival, we sponsor a logo and slogan contest featuring a cash prize. We use the winning logo and slogan on all of our printed materials. We also silkscreen them on T-shirts, and sell them to raise funds for the next year's festival.
A Community Endeavor
Community involvement is a very important and enriching component of this activity. Representatives from museums and local colleges visit to make presentations on a wide variety of topics--careers in art, Native-American art and Hispanic art to name a few. Guest artists talk about their work and demonstrate different processes, such as mural painting techniques mashmaking and wheel-throwing. Performance groups bring activities and share the art of dance, choral music and drama.
Coordinating these activities requires careful planning by the department. After selecting a date and clearing plans with school administrators, community contacts are established and scheduled.
Across the Curriculum
An important facet of the festival is its goal to create opportunities for intercurricular involvement. Every teacher receives a Festival of Arts Calendar to put up in their rooms a week before the festival begins. The calendar lists daily student lunch activities, times and locations of visiting guest artists and speakers, and intercurricular activities, as well as a daily Fine Arts Quote (we often use Art Is...from SchoolArts). All classes have the opportunity to sign up for art-related presentations and performances.
All students are encouraged to participate. Through the wide variety of hands-on arts activities and events scheduled at lunch periods during that week, students in our department take the lead in guiding the school in activities. This is an excellent opportunity for them to demonstrate their artistic talents in areas such as wheel-throwing, portrait drawing, chalk drawing, face painting, kite building and jewelry-making. Strolling musicians, dance and drama mini-performances contribute to the festival atmosphere.
Balancing activities with a regular class schedule is always hectic, but student, school and community participation and awareness have made it both an exhilarating and rewarding experience.