In June, students and teachers from Blue Heron Middle School will come to Centrum for a week of immersion in the arts. They work together with professional artists from all over the country in a variety of art disciplines including theater, visual art, music and dance. Their entire school day is spent immersed in the arts.
Workshop faculty includes African dance and drumming artists, improvisational actors and theater artists, visual artists, poets, Hip-hop dancers, and Japanese drummers. The faculty provides a multi-cultural education in the arts. Along with the wide exposure to an unusual variety of art genres, the program encourages collaboration, creative problem solving and increased confidence among a community of learners.
Donors Holley Carlson, Kristin Manwaring, Homer Smith, and Carla Vander Ven are instrumental in keeping the program going, which happens thanks to community involvement. In the fall of 1998, a group of interested teachers, school administrators, and community members came together to apply for a grant from the Washington State Arts Commission (now ArtsWA) that offered funding for arts in the public schools. Centrum was part of that original group and has remained a partner ever since.
“I come from a liberal arts background therefore I can appreciate a well-rounded approach to education,” said Holley Carlson. “Art, in all of its various forms, can help kids develop other parts of their brains and their personalities. Art is more than a painting or drawing. To me it’s music, movement, theater, written, spoken, sung and so much more. It was easy for me to answer why I would support this program because I know that so many of the artistic elements are offered and promoted during Tales, Text and Theater. In addition, it’s a chance for all of our kids (6th graders) to have the opportunity to perhaps unlock a hidden passion and find an outlet to be creative.”
“I enjoy being part of sponsoring the Blue Heron week because it gives kids a chance that they no longer have in schools to participate in arts activities,” said Carla Vander Ven. “The range of options available at Centrum so far surpasses what might be available to them in daily life. Who gets to learn Taiko Drumming in school? But really the best part is watching kids who normally don’t interact with each other go from strangers to teammates who need to support each other in order to complete the task and present a performance. It is such a life lesson.”