By Anna Miller
They’re painting classroom murals; exploring movement through dance; playing drums to explore rhythm; listening to a cellist to absorb melody. They are our Young Audiences, and they are learning about life through art.
In classrooms across the region, professional artists with Young Audiences of Western New York are engaging in creative learning activities to encourage children of all ages to build skills that will prepare them for a successful life and enable them to contribute to a rich and culturally strong community.
“We’re looking for opportunities for every student to experience success on some level, to engage creatively and connect with different types of role models,” said Theresa Woehrel, program director at Young Audiences (YA). “At the same time, we reinforce a core curriculum and build 21st century life skills – teamwork, collaboration, problem-solving, self-awareness, creative thinking – to prepare kids to be extraordinary adults.”
From school-wide assemblies to intimate workshops in schools, community centers, and after-school programs, artists are approaching children – from pre-school through 12th grade – with new ways of looking at learning and life. Through their art, they explore creativity and examine the world around them, growing through experience.
The organization itself guides its teaching by the principles, “experience, understand, create, and connect.” Their programming this past year reached more than 60,000 kids throughout the region, 400 of which lengthened their learning with full-year partnerships after school.
“They experience an art form, and not just get to see something, but understand it so they know what they saw and how and why it was created,” Woehrel explained. “We can then connect it to other subjects, their daily lives, and how they could use this skill on a day-to-day basis.”
The skills and character traits they develop through this creative engagement are the same characteristics that build strong and creative communities. “These students who participate have a better appreciation for the things going around them culturally, and, in turn, will be part of building a stronger community,” Woehrel said.
The work and programming supported by Young Audiences will be celebrated at their annual fundraiser this Wednesday, October 12th, at the Town Ballroom. The event will honor two visionaries in our arts community – Lorna C. Hill, founder and artistic director of Ujima Theatre Company, and Helga MacKinnon, former YA executive director.
The event will happen in two acts, kicking off at 6pm with a reception including a silent auction, raffles, appetizers from Torches, and a classical music performance by cellist Nancy Baun. The second half of the night will be a high-energy dance and musical performance by Diaspora Drumming and headliners N’Dias (The Mix). Tickets including the first half of the night are $50; for the later part of the evening, sure to be a show to get you moving and grooving for the arts, tickets are $15.
Whether you come to the awards celebration, the show, or learn more about their programming and bring some of their teaching artists to your children’s community, you can be sure your contribution will build toward a stronger and more creative future for our youth.