Changing lives through the arts

by Barbara Faulk

“You inspire me”, spoken straight from the heart of Hannah, a Union County elementary student who wanted to thank the Union County Community Arts Council for what we do to make learning fun and exciting for her.

Inspiring and motivating youth to appreciate and recognize the value that the arts have in their lives is what the Union County Community Arts Council considers the most important role we play in Union County. From preschool to high school graduation, we have received hundreds of thank you messages just like Hannah’s from children who have learned that learning is fun when the arts are present.

The Union County Community Arts Council understands that learning and innovation skills are increasingly being recognized as the skills that prepare students for life and work environments these days. Because of our commitment to learning in the classroom through the arts, children all across Union County benefit each and every year and, because of our 31-year history, students who are now parents have a long history of arts education in Union County.

The N.C. Arts Education Essential Standards identified dance, music, theater arts and visual arts as fundamental tools for learning. Arts education benefits both student and society, because students who participate in core arts programs learn how to teamwork and collaborate, learn how to make decisions and solve problems and adapt and respect others’ diverse ways of thinking, working and expressing themselves.

“While not all students will become professional dancers, musicians, actors or visual artists, all students will benefit from skills and processes that are developed through the arts and that can be applied in a variety of disciplines and settings’, according to the NC Basic Education Program.

The Union County Community Arts Council is recognized as one of the strongest proponents for arts in education in North Carolina. Our focus has become the example for other arts organization efforts to promote arts in the schools and has been consistently identified as having a program that supports the arts from preschool through college.

Students in 28 Union County elementary schools were recently treated to several of these learning experiences. The Tarradiddle Players performed “The Commedia Cinderella” for over 10,000 students during September and October. Bright Star Children’s Theater has just completed a tour of “Jack’s Adventures in North Carolina History” for over 3,000 students. Students in eight Union County middle schools will see a production of “Salt and Pepper” by the Tarradiddle Players as soon as they return from the holiday break. “Salt and Pepper” explores the burden of illiteracy and the bonds of family and friendship.

Arts in Education programs and services continue with a production of “Tarradiddle Travels’ for area daycare students at the Batte Fine Arts Center and the Union County Performance Ensemble’s production of “The Phantom of the Opera” at CATA in February. Over 600 students in 55 Union County schools will participate in the Union County Student Artist Showcase in May at South Piedmont Community College and our own Summer Performing Arts Camp for K-6th grade students is scheduled for June.

In addition to hundreds of arts opportunities in our schools, the Union County Community Arts Council awards Arts in the Schools grants to schools that provide exceptional arts programs or services. Eight schools received grants in 2011-12.

As a parent, educator, student, and friend or as one who appreciate the arts and how they add value to our lives, we invite you to learn how the arts are changing our lives. Please visit us at 120 N. Main Street in Monroe, check out our website www.unionarts.org or call (704) 283-2784.

Barbra Faulk is the president of the Union County Community Arts Council.

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