Arts collaborative pushes for after-school options in Madison County

MADISON COUNTY – Supporters of a local pilot program are working to deliver virtual arts programming to Madison County students.

This pilot program, the North Alabama Arts Education Collaborative, is an initiative of the Alabama Artistic Literacy Consortium, which promotes fully funded arts education of high quality to develop creative and innovative thinking for all Alabama students.

Headquartered in Huntsville, the collaborative serves six school districts across three counties: Huntsville City, Madison City, Madison County, Athens City, Limestone County and Decatur City schools. Arts Huntsville is one of three organizations across the state that assists this effort.

The collaborative has defined a partnership with the CARE Center of Madison County to provide programming in virtual arts education for students in after school-programs. Teaching artists are offering instruction in visual art, theater, arts engineering, songwriting and creative writing.

This program began in September with clubs at Madison County Elementary School. In October, students accessed arts options at Owens Crossroads and New Hope elementary schools and New Hope High School. These students received an outlet for creative expression, especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, COVID-19 restricts North Alabama Arts Education Collaborative from in-person arts partnerships, but online options for virtual access are open to students.

Networking opportunities are expanding to connect area teachers to arts organizations and teaching artists to reach students in arts integration, arts enhancement, arts exposure, arts competition and community arts programs across North Alabama.

The collaborative has prepared the 2020-2021 “Virtual Classroom Arts Education Guide,” a catalog for teachers with details about teaching artists and arts organizations that offer programs in visual and performing arts. The guide has three main sections:

* Arts integration — Students engage in a creative process that connects an art form and another subject during the school day. Students then reach specific learning goals in both subject areas.

* Arts enhancement — Students participate in arts activities and receive instruction for a brief period during the school day. The result is deeper understanding of the art form.

* Arts exposure — Students experience the arts in sponsored performances and field trips. Schools are offered study guides and other resources as supplements to activities.

As COVID-19 safety measures change, workers will update the guide for more in-person sessions.

Alabama State Council on the Arts funds North Alabama Arts Education Collaborative, with support from Alabama State Legislature. The collaborative effort operates in association with Alabama State Department of Education.

For more information about the collaborative, email karen@artshuntsville.org or visit artshuntsville.org/arts-education.

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