Arts Enrichment Grant Report
This past fall, the Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island continued to offer new fun and enriching Arts programs for our Club members through the generosity of our First Nonprofit Foundation Arts Enrichment Grant. In September, we welcomed local Gullah artist Sonja Evans for a special workshop for members ages 6-13. In this workshop, members learned about the Gullah Heritage of Hilton Head Island and about Sonja’s incredible painting style. Each member who participated worked with Sonja to create a painting on canvas using colors based on their meanings in Gullah culture. This community outreach program was a great way to introduce our members to our local heritage and has provided us with a connection to the Gullah Arts community upon which we can expand our outreach.
In September, we also participated in the ‘International Peace Poster Contest’ by the Lion’s Club with our preteen members, ages 11-13. Members created original poster designs with the theme “share peace”. Our club was very excited to have 4 prize winning posters selected which were showcased at our local library in the months of November and December.
Hip Hop dance lessons were introduced to our Club members in the month of October through dance instructor, Ana Flanagan, who is also a dance teacher at the local elementary school. Members of all ages were encouraged to join Ms. Flanagan twice a week to learn new hip hop moves and dances to popular music in this drop in class. Classes average about 20 students per session and have been a big hit with our members. To further their dance skills, we have partnered with a local dance studio who employs professional instructors who will work with our hip hop students once per week beginning in January introducing them to new dance styles. The class will culminate with a dance show in May.
This fall we also decided to place an emphasis on group projects as well, encouraging whole classes to work together to showcase their work in our November Art Show. In our everyday afterschool program, our members learned about things like recycling, sustainability, and creative thinking by turning “trash” into artistic treasures. Members were required to find recycled goods such as pop cans, water bottles, paper, yarn, plastic lids, and more, for their projects. Over 10 different classroom projects were displayed at the art show which was visited by over 125 people from our community. The central piece of the showcase was a group project based on the glasswork of artist Dale Chihuly. Members used over 50 plastic bottles which were hand painted, to create a beautiful, hanging chandelier.
In December, just before the holidays, we had the opportunity to take our members ages 11-14 on a special field trip to a great local event, the Hilton Head Public Art Exhibit. While viewing these large scale public art sculptures from around the world, our members were encouraged to interact with the art by taking ‘selfies’. Our members also participated in voting for their favorite piece as part of the people’s choice voting. The piece that the majority of them chose was selected by the town to purchase as a part of our community’s permanent public art collection.
Moving into the winter and spring, we are excited to have been selected to host the Regional Fine Art Exhibit for the southeast for the Boys & Girls Club of America. We are looking forward to another local showcase of our students amazing work this spring!
Since last January our First Nonprofit grant has impacted more than 800 Club members ages 6-18 through our arts enrichment offerings. By providing an outlet for creative expression through engaging arts education, we have had the opportunity to use the arts to inspire creativity, encourage community outreach, and empower personal expression. Our summer arts theme “Passport to the World” produced a Visual Arts Showcase visited by over 100 people in the community, and our fall arts program of Recycled Art provided the backdrop for a donor event celebration which was attended by 125 of our most cherished Club supporters.
Our Club is known for its high quality educational opportunities including outstanding STEM programs, elementary reading intervention, and daily homework support provided by caring staff and volunteer mentors. The First Nonprofit grant has allowed us to expand these areas of strength to include strong programs in the visual and performing arts. The funds allowed us to reach out to our local community of artists and arts organizations to collaborate in creating unique and previously unattainable art experiences for our youth. Members who have not previously had access to arts-based activities after school now have the opportunity to participate in a variety of programs including Fine Arts, Dance and Performing Arts.
Communities with rich arts and cultural offerings are more cohesive. A University of Pennsylvania study demonstrated that a high concentration of the arts in a city leads to higher civic engagement, more social cohesion, higher child welfare and lower crime and poverty rates. Arts spark creativity and innovation. The Conference Board reports that creativity is among the top 5 applied skills sought by business leaders, with 72 percent saying creativity is of high importance when hiring. Arts improve academic performance as evidenced by the higher GPAs and standardized test scores (and a 40% lower drop-out rate) of students with an education rich in the arts. This is true regardless of socio-economic status. Every day our Club members are touched by this grant through arts experiences. Many have discovered artistic talent they didn’t know they had and others have found serenity and solace in just participating in the artistic experience! Members have also achieved a sincere sense of accomplishment and pride from their creations by having them showcased in Club art shows.
“I learned of the Boys & Girls Club Art Program through our local Art Academy, and decided to inquire about what types of art classes they were planning and how I could help. Following discussions with Rebecca Adkins Brown, their Arts Coordinator, I learned that a basic photography class would be well received. I was thrilled to work-up an 11 week course that would build week-over-week to develop basic photography skills. We purchased several point-and-shoot cameras to use during the course. I was so amazed at how engaged the children were in the classes, how quickly they absorbed and then demonstrated the skills we coved in class. We included using Google Picasa to teach some general editing skills, and this is where we saw some amazing creativity! The culmination of the course was for the children to select 2 pictures they were most proud of, enlarged and mounted the photos, and then held a showing at the Club. I am very proud of what the children learned, and am hopeful they will continue their interest in photography. Our next set of classes will be centered around the National Boys & Girls Club of America’s “Image Makers” contest.”
Faith Seiders, professional photographer