ARTS ADVOCACY DAY 2016/ Augusta, MEWe are featured on the Maine Alliance for Art Education website here.
If anyone doubted that students who love the arts aren’t a joyous and dedicated bunch, they needed only to stop in at Thursday’s Arts Education Advocacy Day at the State House. Over 200 students of mostly high school age, but also younger, brought their enthusiasm and energy to the Statehouse. The students – brought by teachers, parents and chaperones and in some cases community arts organizations – came from every county in the state and in some cases every senate and house district, to speak about their passion for the arts with their legislators. They held up signs with their legislators’ names on them to connect with them in the third floor hallway.. and connect they did!
After the legislators themselves came downstairs a formal program included remarks by Acting Commissioner of the Department of Education, William Beardsley; Maine Arts Commission Arts Education Director, Argy Nestor; Farnsworth Museum Education Director, Roger Dell; Maine Resilience Building Network Co-facilitator, Sue Mackey Andrews; and Arts Education Program Manager at Americans for the Arts, Jeff Poulin. There were also student performances: by the Biddeford Intermediate School Select Chorus, conducted by Andrea Wollstadt; by a Bangor High School English class, working with teaching artist Katenia Keller, which had choreographed a dance collaboratively; and by SLAM! a group of students from SAD 33 in Aroostook County advised by Theresa Cerceo, which performed an art advocacy group speaking piece.
It was a full day! But this Advocacy Day’s significance as a day of firsts was in the students themselves… not only in their sheer number (a first for the State House), but also as a statewide gathering of students involved in all art forms – visual art, music, dance, theater and poetry – meeting each other and feeling empowered. So this day was a first, but it wasn’t the last!