Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sanford Herald Article

Chatham arts council aims for more creativity in classrooms
by Alexa Milan
13 hrs ago | 0  |  | 0  |  |

PITTSBORO — For some students, a lecture about the Civil Rights Movement or mathematical formulas isn’t enough to make the information stick. In honor of National Arts and Humanities Month, the Chatham County Arts Council hopes to show the community that creativity and innovation in the classroom are keys to success.

ChathamArts, the Northwood Arts Education Foundation, the Northwood High School Arts Education Department and Americans for the Arts are partnering to host a Creative Conversation at 7 p.m. tonight. The organizations encourage arts leaders and community members to gather at Northwood High School’s Benjamin J. Lee Auditorium to discuss the importance of the arts in the community and in schools.

“Art is more than something that just hangs on the wall,” said Molly Matlock, executive director of ChathamArts. “It can challenge us to think and see in new ways.”

To kick off last year’s National Arts and Humanities Month, Americans for the Arts coordinated 43 Creative Conversations throughout the country. Tonight’s discussion in Pittsboro will feature Serena Ebhardt and David zum Brunnen of EbzB Productions, an organization specializing in student workshops, residencies, professional development seminars and touring theatrical productions that promote integrity and self-discovery.

Ebhardt and zum Brunnen will discuss with attendees the idea of arts integration, which involves incorporating the arts into other subjects such as math, English, science and history.

“They may use music to teach (students) about sound waves, mathematical formulas and the history and social context of the music,” Matlock said.

Ebhardt and zum Brunnen were both trained to teach arts in education workshops at the Lincoln Center Institute and the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. In addition to speaking at the Creative Conversation, Ebhardt and zum Brunnen will conduct residencies through ChathamArts at Jordan-Matthews High School and Northwood High School.

Their residencies will focus on integrating the arts into other areas to enhance the learning process. At a past residency, Ebhardt and zum Brunnen had students conduct interviews about desegregation in Columbus County and use that information to write their own production about the topic.

“It’s not a situation when you stop the learning that’s going on,” said Gina Harrison, chair of the ChathamArts arts in education committee and president of the Northwood Arts Education Foundation. “The teaching artists are enhancing the lessons. It’s trying to bring that holistic approach that arts educators use intrinsically into other disciplines.”

Chatham County is no stranger to artist residencies. In years past, ChathamArts has brought residencies to schools that focused on everything from language arts and social studies to science and math.

“In the past three years, we’ve served more than 5,000 students through residencies,” Matlock said. “We’re kind of revamping this year and really letting David and Serena guide how we strengthen our programming.”

Matlock said she hopes National Arts and Humanities Month will bring studies to the forefront that demonstrate the benefits of arts education. For example, The Center for Educational Policy conducted a 2008 study that revealed 93 percent of Americans believe the arts are important to education, but 22 percent of school districts cut arts-related instructional time.

“We are now finding lots of research that the cuts that have often been made are detrimental not only to the arts but also to other core subjects,” Harrison said. “As arts integration points out, all of these activities contribute to a well-rounded student.”

Harrison said she hopes National Arts and Humanities Month, the Creative Conversation and the upcoming artist residencies will reinforce the power of the arts to teach students critical skills such as innovation, critical thinking and problem solving.

“(At the Creative Conversation), we hope we have not only arts educators but anyone in the community who is interested in how arts integration works,” Harrison said. “The arts are always one of those factors that contribute to children’s interest, their motivation, their creativity and their ability to think outside the box.”

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