Commentary: St. Louis arts organizations provide a variety of educational opportunities | St. Louis Public Radio

Commentary: St. Louis arts organizations provide a variety of educational opportunities

Oct 13, 2017

Nancy Kranzberg

We see and hear art at our many art venues around town and most, both large and small institutions and venues, have exciting education programs. I'll just highlight a few of them.

Jack Lane of Stages says, "Entering its second decade of teaching, the Stages Performing Arts Academy in Chesterfield and its Outreach Programs throughout the community, annually reach over 5,000 students, from classes in music, voice, dance, and drama to regionally unique programs for children with physical, cognitive and developmental delays, Stages has had a profound effect on the study of the performing arts in St. Louis.”

CAM, The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, has featured its "New Art in the Neighborhood" for decades. It’s a program in which teens work with visiting artists and build their own portfolio. And another program for teens called "Teen Museum Studies" teaches kids what it's like to work in a museum by teaching them how to curate a show. The teens wind up with their own show hanging in the galleries on the second level of the museum.

The Sheldon, CAM's neighbor in Grand Center, has multiple education programs such as their Daytime Education series featuring, "The Jazz Story," "Folk Music," "Classical Music, "Blues" and "The American Musical." Another program is called "SOLID" which stands for Science of learning instrument design. The students learn how to create musical instruments out of recycled materials. 

Two other programs at The Sheldon are Harvey Lockhart's North County Big Band which practices at The Sheldon and The Professional Development Program in which the education staff works with teachers in multiple school districts. 

Renee Franklin, Director of Audience Development at the St. Louis Art Museum, talks of just a few of the museum's many education programs such as The ABC Program (arts in the basic curriculum) which has been around for ages. This program works specifically with fourth graders. And the museum sponsors "The Teen Arts Council" which is a club for kids at the museum run by and for kids. Of course the docent program at the museum features intensely trained volunteers to guide people of all ages through the museum for general tours as well as specialized ones such as tours of special exhibitions, American Art Tours, European Art Tours, Asian Art Tours, etc., etc.

Philip Dunlap, Director of Education and Community Engagement at Jazz St. Louis talks of the "WeBop" program designed for 3-5 year olds to teach social development and was created by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Education Program. The "JazzU" program is an after school program for talented middle schoolers and high school students that want to learn to play jazz and there is still another program called Beat NF developed by Jazz St Louis and doctors at the Washington University Medical School which works with 3-5 year olds with developmental problems by using music and movement.

Erin Prange, Artistic Director of The Big Muddy Dance Company, says that a summer program called "Elevate Students Project” works with 14 to 18 year old students and there is a pre-professional program in which the kids work with choreographers and wind up presenting their own personally developed dance programs. And still another program, "The Convergence Trainee Program" works with post college age students to prepare for a dance career.

Dana Turkovic, Associate Curator at Laumeier Sculpture Park says,"Laumeier's education programs reflect the unique qualities of the Park. Its education programs include its very popular Summer Art Camps, explore Classes such as ceramics, drawing and painting for youth, teens and adults. You can even participate in a Docent-led tour of the Permanent Collection and Laumeier also has free family days which provide families with a chance to bond while encouraging observation, imagination, curiosity and creativity." 

This is really just the "tip of the iceberg" when it comes to educational arts opportunities in just a few of our arts institutions in St. Louis so if you or your friends and family want to delve in a little deeper into the arts, there are opportunities galore.

Nancy Kranzberg has been involved in the arts community for more than thirty years on numerous arts related boards.