Fine Arts Festival
A Community Partnership
Every May, for the last nine years, a group of eager fourth-grade students from Willamette University's community partnership school, Richmond Elementary, migrates to the campus for five days of arts experiences.
Joining these fourth graders are children from Salem-Keizer and other area schools. In this time of "No Child Left Behind" and budget and time cuts in our school systems, the arts education for children is sorely lacking.
Visual Arts Day
The Graduate School of Education, with grants from the College of Liberal Arts and community agencies, provides training and hands-on art activities in all of the art genres. One day celebrates the visual arts with a guest artist sharing his work. We have hosted potters, woodworkers, sculptors and painters. The children meet the artists and then work on projects in the same venue. One highlight of the visual arts day is the walking art gallery! The children design and paint their t-shirt and then wear them for others to see.
A visit to the historic Elsinore Theatre to admire the structure, history and architecture is always a treat. The children visit the Hallie Ford Museum and end the day with reflective writing and drawings.
Dance day comes next with ballet, jazz, country line dancing and hip-hop on tap! The children try each "step" and then have a wonderful afternoon workshop with Daryl Thomas and the "Rainbow Dance Troupe." Everyone is tired but thrilled with the day, and journal writing is filled with remembrances of two steps. plies and jazz hands.
Music day is all about composers and performers ready to share. The children learn how to write a song and watch as a violinist plays an electronic violin while telling the story of Vivaldi's life. This is also the day of the musical/opera. Each year a group of volunteer thespians join selected Richmond students to put on a full-length children's musical/opera. Approximately 1,300 children come to the afternoon performance and another 500-700 community members attend at night. This year's production of Disney Jr’s "Jungle Book" promises to be a hit!!
Theater day begins with the "Tears of Joy" puppet theatre coming to campus. The children watch a performance, then receive a workshop. Classes in theatre games and make-up complete the day.
The final day is the celebration of the arts day where reflections and stories are shared in a "coffee house" setting and the children design a motto or message to send to the community. One year we made rockets and shot them off to the capitol grounds with the message to "Keep Art in the Heart of All Children." We have also written poetry to share and created murals with chalk about the joy of the arts.
As the festival has evolved, so has the interest of MAT students. MATs help teach the classes and volunteer for the production. They are instrumental in making the Fine Arts Festival a success!