Family Arts: Arts education endeavors in Utah schools

Published: Saturday, Jan. 14 2012 4:00 p.m. MST

“I would not be the person that I am today if it weren’t for the arts programs that were in my life as a young child,” she said. “I don’t know that I would’ve been interested in (art) despite the fact that my father (Michael Ballam) was an opera singer. Being able to do it yourself as a child and plant those seeds, nothing can replace that.”

“We do have a really special arrangement in our state and a special devotion to the arts and to introducing students to professional art-making,” Fowler said.

Ballam, Hawkins, Fowler, Larson and Stratford all expressed particular gratitude for the support of the legislature and Utah State Board of Education. Because of constant support from an already artistically rich culture, they’re able to make many things happen.

Programs listed in this article alone only scratch the surface of the education programs put on not only by POPS organizations, but also by other private and community arts organizations across the state. With a little digging, it’s possible to find myriad education programs for children, teachers and other adults in multiple art forms.

Not every school can participate in POPS programs and the POPS programs do not necessarily fill the gap left by a cut arts curriculum in schools, explained Cathy Jensen, state fine arts specialist and head of POPS.

Funding is a definite driving force behind education opportunities like these, and, as Jensen said, “things have been tight at the legislature for the past few years.”

Getting the needed funding will always be a work in progress for these arts educators, as will raising awareness of just how much is available to teachers, schools and students at no cost to them.

“Our biggest challenge is letting people know what we’re already doing,” Hawkins said. She added that teachers, education board members, parents and others often approach her to present an idea for the symphony education department to do.

“We’re able to smile and say, ‘We’re already doing that.’”

Next week: What’s being offered in the arts for families and why parents should consider making the arts a family affair.

Members of POPS

Ballet West, www.balletwest.org

Children’s Dance Theatre, www.tannerdance.utah.edu

Repertory Dance Theatre, www.rdtutah.org

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, www.ririewoodbury.com

Springville Museum of Art, www.sma.nebo.edu

Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, www.ufomt.org

Utah Museum of Fine Arts, umfa.utah.edu

Utah Shakespeare Festival, www.bard.org

Utah Symphony | Utah Opera, www.usuoeducation.org

Email: hbowler@desnews.com

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