Local Boys & Girls Clubs keep fine arts programming alive for vital reasons

Local Boys & Girls Clubs keep fine arts programming alive for vital reasons

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana showcase local talent in Annual Youth Fine Arts Exhibit at Southlake Mall

While public school fine arts programs continue face elimination or cuts in funding altogether, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana’s Fine Arts Programming continues to thrive due to a keen understanding of why arts education is so important.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana continues to be passionate about and committed to exposing a large number of children to the arts. Additionally, researchers from UCLA found students with high arts involvement performed higher on standardized achievement tests indicating that arts programming can help in the overall development of healthy young people.

Despite the strong correlation between arts programming and academic success, in recent years, financially starved school districts have had to trim or even eliminate arts education. The Great Recession may have accelerated this trend, but according to a 2012 report from the Department of Education, the economic downturn followed a prolonged decline in funding for public school art, dance and theater programs (the proportion of elementary schools offering these subjects dropped from 20 percent to 3 percent and 4 percent, respectively). The study also detected a concerning “equity gap” in arts education between high- and low-income students. Working to bridge the arts programming gap and fund this cross-county exhibit is generous funding received from Indiana Arts Commission; South Shore Arts; and the National Endowment of the Arts.

“We are thrilled to again bring Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana’s Fine Arts Exhibit to area residents. Our exhibit highlights the extraordinary artistic talents of Club members throughout Lake and Porter counties. And, we are thrilled to partner again with Southlake Mall. They have been excellent in letting us showcase such great work and creativity in their shopping space,” states Kristina Balog, regional Club director and fine arts expert for the organization. The exhibit will be showcased at Southlake Mall from October 18 – 20, 2019 during mall hours.

“Our Fine Arts Exhibit is a wonderful way to showcase the talent of our Club members. It also is an opportunity for our Clubs to highlight our innovative programs designed to empower youth to excel in school, become good citizens and lead healthy productive lives,” said Ryan Smiley, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana. “We are grateful for funding received annually through Indiana Arts Commission, South Shore Arts and the National Endowment of the Arts enabling our organization to strengthen and grow our fine arts programming.”

The art exhibit will kick-off with an Artists’ Reception for Club members, their parents, Board volunteers, and media. During the exhibit, local artists are recruited to judge and name first, second, and third place winners in the following art categories: monochromatic and multicolored drawings; pastel; watercolor; oil or acrylic; printmaking; mixed media; collage; and group project.  All first-place pieces will, then, move on to state, regional, and possibly national exhibits. This past year, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana had three Club members named National Fine Arts Winners. Only 33 pieces, nationwide, are selected for this honor. The three Club members receiving national recognition included: Duneland Club member Aarohi Agashe for his collage piece titled Jazzing up the Classics; Portage Club member Sanja Kirova for her monochromatic drawing titled Self Portrait; and Cedar Lake Club member Avery Krumwiede for her pastel work titled Blue Kitty. Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana is to inspire and enable the youth of our communities to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens. 

Offering hope and opportunity to local youth since 1954 by providing a safe place for kids to learn and grow through life-enhancing, after-school and summer programming, the Clubs’ mission is to inspire and enable the youth of our communities to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens. With the support of highly trained professional staff and adult mentors, our Clubs build Great Futures by offering fun, engaging and impactful programs to thousands of youth, ages 5 to 18, throughout the Region in both Lake and Porter counties.

Ten Vital Reasons Why Arts in Education is Important for Kids

1. Creativity. This may seem like a no-brainer, but the arts allow kids to express themselves better than math or science. As the Washington Post says, In an arts program, your child will be asked to recite a monologue in 6 different ways, create a painting that represents a memory, or compose a new rhythm to enhance a piece of music. If children have practice thinking creatively, it will come naturally to them now and in their future careers.

2. Improved Academic Performance. The arts don’t just develop a child’s creativity—the skills they learn because of them spill over into academic achievement. PBS says, A report by Americans for the Arts states that young people who participate regularly in the arts (three hours a day on three days each week through one full year) are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math and science fair or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate.

3. Motor Skills. This applies mostly to younger kids who do art or play an instrument. Simple things like holding a paintbrush and scribbling with a crayon are an important element in developing a child’s fine motor skills. According to the National Institutes of Health, developmental milestones around age three should include drawing a circle and beginning to use safety scissors. Around age four, children may be able to draw a square and begin cutting straight lines with scissors.

4. Confidence. While mastering a subject certainly builds a student’s confidence, there is something special about participating in the arts. Getting up on a stage and singing gives kids a chance to step outside their comfort zone. As they improve and see their own progress, their self-confidence will continue to grow.

5. Visual Learning. Especially for young kids, drawing, painting, and sculpting in art class help develop visual-spatial skills. Dr. Kerry Freedman, Head of Art and Design Education at Northern Illinois University says, Children need to know more about the world than just what they can learn through text and numbers. Art education teaches students how to interpret, criticize, and use visual information, and how to make choices based on it.

6. Decision Making. The arts strengthen problem-solving and critical thinking skills. How do I express this feeling through my dance? How should I play this character? Learning how to make choices and decisions will certainly carry over into their education and other parts of life—as this is certainly a valuable skill in adulthood.

7. Perseverance. I know from personal experience that the arts can be challenging. When I was trying to learn and master the clarinet, there were many times when I became so frustrated that I wanted to quit. But I didn’t. After practicing hard, I learned that hard work and perseverance pay off. This mindset will certainly matter as they grow—especially during their careers where they will likely be asked to continually develop new skills and work through difficult projects.

8. Focus. As you persevere through painting or singing or learning a part in a play, focus is imperative. And certainly, focus is vital for studying and learning in class as well as doing a job later in life.

9. Collaboration. Many of the arts such as band, choir, and theater require kids to work together. They must share responsibility and compromise to achieve their common goal. Kids learn that their contribution to the group is integral to its success—even if they don’t have the solo or lead role.

10. Accountability. Just like collaboration, kids in the arts learn that they are accountable for their contributions to the group. If they drop the ball or mess up, they realize that it’s important to take responsibility for what they did. Mistakes are a part of life, and learning to accept them, fix them, and move on will serve kids well as they grow older.