COMMUNITY MATTERS: Investing in the arts
I bet there are only a few of us whose school had a holiday each year when the rodeo came to town.
And, for three or four days beforehand, we got out of class each time another contingent of cowboys rode past our school. We all dressed “Go Texan” for the week. An announcement would come over the loud speaker telling us that trail riders were coming. We would troop out of classrooms, go over the fence and wave and cheer as the group rode by on their horses.
I only mention this as a discussion on the importance of cultural activities for school-age children.
Many donors to Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation express concerns about the lack of cultural activities at schools and worry where future artists and audiences will come from when children don’t learn to enjoy the performing and visual arts in schools.
One organization supported by local and second homeowners is Arts for the Schools. Donors give through Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation to Arts for the Schools to bring a variety of cultural activities to students of all ages in Tahoe, Truckee and Incline Village schools.
Over the years, director Terry Yagura has brought performances such as Ballet Folkorico, puppeteers Loren Kahn and Yang Feng, the Southland Opera, poetry and egg painting workshops and Dos Amigos, a live theater program that takes place on a basketball court.
Yagura is quick to point out that programs go beyond performances. She encourages artists to attend classrooms and talk with children about the process of art, how they spend their time and she provides an opportunity for children to interact with professional artists. She also encourages performers to include students in their performances when appropriate.
Supporters of school-based arts programs believe that these cultural experiences can be carried for a lifetime. When I was in elementary school, in addition to having a holiday when the rodeo came to town, we sometimes received free tickets to the rodeo. My school cultural experiences exposed me to artists such as Johnny Cash, Charley Pride and Mel Tillis – a musical taste I carry with me today. (And you thought childhood exposure to drugs was scary.)
So, extrapolating from the specific to the general, what might happen when school children are exposed to top-notch performers and artists year after year? Perhaps they will develop an appreciation for symphony music, ballet or Shakespeare. Then in five, 10 or 15 years, arts organizations like the Lake Tahoe Music Festival, Shakespeare at Sand Harbor, KITUS and Sierra Artists’ Network will be flourishing with a new crop of patrons.
For these reasons and many more, TTCF and donors with funds at our Foundation invest in Arts for the Schools. If you would like more information on Arts for the Schools, contact Terry Yagura at 546-4602 or Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation at 587-1776.
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