Put a little ART in their hearts!

art ed

When I was a child, I loved to reenact scenes from some of my favorite television shows. During my elementary years, I enjoyed singing in the sunshine and junior choirs at church (I sound good when others are drowning me out). From 6th-12th grades, I played the flute in the school band. During my junior and senior years of high school, I participated and had small roles in the class plays. I didn’t know then, that each of those experiences were forms of art. I always thought art was just adding colors to stick figures hoping that one would turn into a Picasso painting!

One of the best decisions I’ve made as a mother is introducing my daughter to different styles of art. Dance camp, theater camp, art classes, and museums are just some of the activities that she’s enjoyed in her eight years. As I’ve shared before, we throughly enjoy the plays/musicals at the Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT). They produce stellar performances. This summer I attended my first broadway show, and I think the actors at DCT, can walk onto any broadway stage and own the show!

Studies have shown that art education enhances school performance. I won’t bore you with statistics because, well, that’s why there is Google! Unfortunately, funding for art education programs continue to be cut from school budgets.

I spoke with Nancy Schaeffer, Education Director and Associate Artistic Director, for the DCT, and asked her to share some insight into what parents can do to expose their children to different styles of art even if finances or lack of knowledge about art programs are a hindrance.

1) What do you see are the obstacles when it comes to young people becoming involved with art programs? Time- many young people are very busy and can’t find the time to work in arts activities. Sometimes the obstacles are money or transportation or integrating more programming into the overall family schedules. Sometimes it is access. Maybe there are no programs in the community for a young person to participate. And then sometimes the biggest obstacle may be a parent or child understanding the value of the arts in all of our lives.

2) What can parents/guardians do as a family to expose their children to different styles of art? What if there are financial difficulties? There are so many arts and cultural institutions in Dallas. Many have free or low-cost options as well. The Dalls Museum Arts is free. Klyde Warren Park has free events. We offer pay what you can shows- as do many performing arts groups. I think sometimes parents feel like they are not welcome because they don’t know where to park or what to wear. Most arts groups in town just want to reach out to the entire community and just want you to come on in. You can get so much information on any group’s web site. You can look at Art and Seek and Dallas Morning News Guide Live for options. Also, please check out DCT’s web site.

3) Reading is important in all facets of life. What books do you suggest children/teenagers read that may spark an interest in arts? I think they should read what they like and then maybe take a risk and branch out. I personally like to get book recommendations from my friends. I think parents and young people should do the same. Teachers can suggest fun reading options. I KNOW that our local librarians would be more than happy to help anyone find a book.

4) Are there advantages to enrolling in classes at DCT versus school art programs? I think that it is great to take advantage of any and all options that work for you. There is no versus. Do both-come to DCT and participate at school! Frankly- the more art the better!

5) What has the DCT come to mean to the community? I hope families and young people know that we care about them. We want our community to feel welcome- like DCT can be a second home. We now have young people who used to be students in our programs bringing their children to shows and classes. That is the best commendation we could ask for!

Introduce your kids to The Arts! Allow them to express themselves! Encourage them to dig deep into their imagination. You might be surprised at what they discover!


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