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With reduced funding in recent decades for school art and music programs, the Arts Council of Mendocino County’s “Get Arts in the Schools Program” (GASP) helps address this gap at no or little cost to schools.

The program gives children hands-on arts enrichment with professional artists, while it also helps to support local artists.

This is the tenth year that the Arts Council has provided GASP awards. With core funding from the Mendocino Office of Education and additional private support from the Community Foundation of Mendocino County—and a recent fundraiser donation from the Mendocino County Art Association—the Arts Council is announcing this year’s awards, totaling $18,330 to pay ten Mendocino County artists to bring many art foms to twenty-three schools throughout the county. Many of the projects integrate in some way with existing topics already in the students’ curriculum and all projects address the state's Visual and Performing Arts Standards.

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GASP students share their work.

This school year, students will have a chance to experience multicultural mask-making, Chinese calligraphy, dance, papier-maché sculpture, rhythm and percussion, poetry-writing and public speaking, mosaic tile art, painting and more. This year’s artists and projects are: Alexa Armenta Baldwin—“Masks Around the World”; Viviana Field—“Web of Life”; Ada B. Fine—“Art Adventures with Shape, Line and Color”; Heng Fu Shr, “Introduction to Chinese Calligraphy”; Jessi Langston—“Marching Bucket Drum Line”; Trudy McCreanor—“Using Dance to Tell a Story”; Cathleen Micheaels—“Where the Wild Things Are” and “Arts Across the Curriculum”; Blake More—“Honoring the Aural Tradition—Multimedia Poetry through Writing, Speaking and Performance”; Marie Pera, “Creature from Where?” and “Drawing with Grace (Hudson)”; and Elizabeth Raybee—“Peace Path Mosaic.”

Teachers consistently give rave reviews about the artists who visit their classrooms. Comments from previous years include: “The artists were fantastic. The kids LOVED them!” “The students were totally engaged, and the results were excellent!” “The first-graders step up to the microphone and share their poems by reading them aloud with remarkable skill and pride.” “ANY art in schools is time well-spent. I cannot tell you how valuable this program is to us.” “Wow! I am inspired to do a few more hands-on projects! The kids need it.” “I was completely satisfied and impressed.” “The students were inspired, and began working at home.” “It was an honor to have a local artist of such high caliber come into the classroom,” “The artist helped me realize that my students are more capable than I thought, and how much they crave hands-on experiences.” “The bookmaking project was a roaring success.”

One parent told a teacher that her son announced, unsolicited, that he no longer wants to spend his allowance money on computer games—he plans to buy art supplies instead.

And what did the kids themselves have to say about the art classes? “I learned that I can draw better than I thought.” “I was proud of my poem because it said what was in my head.” “Art is very cool.” “I learned that everyone knows how to draw, if they can believe in themself to not let themself down.” “I learned that yellow mixed with red is orange. I liked doing art with you.” “I like art because it’s fun, and you can never usually get it wrong.” “I love art! I want to be an artist when I grow up.”

General donations are welcome to support funding to continue the Get Arts in the Schools Program in future years. Donations may be sent to 309 East Perkins Street, Ukiah, CA 95482. More information and news about GASP may be found on the Arts Council’s website at www.ArtsMendocino.org (Programs tab), or by contacting the Arts Council’s Executive Director Alyssum Wier: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 707-463-2727.