The Delta Arts Mission is transforming the delta through imaginative arts education. Our programs are grounded in two national arts education philosophies- the Lincoln Center and WolfTrap. We work in the schools by beginning with teacher training around aesthetic education. Teachers work with professional artists and they find connections within their curriculum to arts, which gives students the opportunity to be creative, imagine, and explore. The teachers make incredibly authentic connections that are rich and deep. Right now they are working on the philosophies of Maxine Green and Howard Gardener. Maxine says that imagination is “the ability to think of things as if they could be otherwise”. As we work with teachers, we encourage them to think of their teaching as just that. We actually had a teacher who came to our workshop and was planning to retire- she was a great teacher, but she was burned out. Because of our aesthetic education workshop, she was renewed- she had discovered this new way of teaching and it inspired her to stay another five years.
I am very proud of the work we have done with the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts. Recently, because of a generous grant from the King Foundation, we were able to implement STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) integration training in our work which has been really incredible. Through our program, we used the arts as a vehicle to teach science and math concepts to students. The principals and teachers did comprehensive training on how to utilize these concepts in their classrooms and schools and they were assigned a resident artist who helped them in their classrooms. Being able to see students connect to math and science concepts through the arts was very inspiring and the teachers really captured the concept and continue to use it even now. It was probably one of my highlights of the year.
We have over 150 volunteers, but we always need more! We need people to help particularly with our Crittenden Youth Theatre program around production. We also encourage people to become a member of DeltaArts and be a strong advocate and ambassador when you have a great arts experience. We always need that support from the community.
From our inception, we have grown dramatically- both philosophically and in breadth and depth. I attribute that growth to our participation in the Alliance’s PNE program (Program for Nonprofit Excellence). It made us stop and really examine the inner-workings of our organization and if we had not had the leadership of the Alliance, we would have never done that. Through our participation in PNE, we created an outstanding strategic plan that guides everything we do- it is a living document and we utilize it daily. We also really strengthened the quality and engagement of our board which has dramatically changed us for the better. To have the guidance of the Alliance throughout that process was instrumental.