The Paramount Arts Center’s (PAC) noted arts education programs have received a major boost this past month, with grants and gifts totaling $69,198. These new funds will allow the PAC to expand its programs for area students and teachers, enabling it to serve more schools and reach more children who have limited access to the arts.
The largest gift, which totaled $41,900 from an anonymous donor, will enable the PAC to continue its successful Arts Immersion project, which was initiated last season.
While it will allow the PAC education team to continue work with children and teachers in the Fairview School District, it will also bring the addition of two new schools, Ashland’s Crabbe Elementary School and Boyd County’s Summit Elementary. These additions will allow the PAC to expand the Arts Immersion project to reach over 1,800 children.
Students and schools who benefit from these grants fall within the spectrum of free/reduced lunch with the National School Lunch Program.
Schools who also qualify for the programming are those who have limited arts resources.
“It has been proven time and again that students who participate in music and performing arts score higher on tests, because of the skills they use every day in arts related projects. I think removing art education from the lives of children has a negative effect on these kids,”Melanie Cornelison, PAC education director, said.
The Arts Immersion project provides a wide range of music, theater and dance activities for every student in targeted schools that has found to have limited arts resources. Experiences from the program extend over a full school year to enhance learning and enable the arts to be used in a variety of classes.
The Paramount Arts Center’s education programs, led by Cornelison, reach more than 38,000 children each year with programs including youth education performances, touring shows for rural schools, artist residencies, teacher training and the PAC’s Arts Academy and summer arts camps.
“This is pretty big for us to receive. We got two grants that we have not received in the past few years, so that really boosted our number a bit,” Cornelison said. “These grants mean a lot of students will receive total performing arts education, music, dance, and theatre. We can also give scholarships to students to attend PAC evening classes.”
The Paramount also received grants of $17,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and $6,298 from South Arts.
The NEA award supports a month-long “Big Read” project in April, 2015, which will join the Paramount with the Boyd County and Ironton Libraries, area schools, Ohio University (OU) Southern and the Greenup Extension Arts Council in performances, lectures and literary activities centered on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby.” The Paramount was one of only three Kentucky organizations to be awarded a “Big Read” grant this year.
Support from South Arts will enable a community residency and the regional premiere of the celebrated African-American Step Dance company “Step Afrika!” in January, 2015. The company will work with area schools, local step dancers and patients at the VA Hospital in Huntington during their stay.
Two area businesses are also underwriting PAC educational programs this year. Marathon Petroleum Company is providing $3,000 to sponsor the center’s 31 performance Youth Education Series, which attracts more than 20,000 children in the Tri-state area each year. Ashland Credit Union is also providing $1,000 to support K-12 teacher development activities.
For more information about the new Youth Education Series, Arts Academy, Big Read and Arts Immersion, visit PAC’s website at www.paramountartscenter.com or call Cornelison at 606-324-3175, EXT 311.
Joseph Pratt can be reached at the Portsmouth Daily Times 740-353-3101, EXT 287, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.