On February 17, 2021

Southern Vermont Arts Center presents the art backpacks virtual classroom project

SVAC is proud to announce a new program that brings customized art lessons with professional artists and art supplies to schools struggling to provide quality art education through its art backpack and virtual classroom project. The program will launch with 11 local schools—Currier Memorial School, The Dorset School, Long Trail School, Manchester Elementary Middle School, Middletown Springs Elementary School, Molly Stark Elementary School, Pownal Elementary School, Red Fox Community School, Shaftsbury Elementary School, Wells Village School and Woodford Hollow Elementary School.

This project is underway thanks to a large group of teachers, principals, district administrators and families as well as SVAC’s teaching artists—Megan Mayhew Bergman and Chalice Mitchell . The program is generously supported by Vermont Afterschool, George W. Mergens Foundation, Southwestern Vermont Health Care, Vermont Arts Council, Northshire Bookstore, Heritage Family Cares for You Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Schools face a new shortage of art supplies as health protocols restrict sharing. In some cases, available funds have not been sufficient to outfit classrooms for the pandemic. At the same time, many art teachers are trying to teach online but find that students do not have drawing tools at home. This program began as an effort to support teachers and families by supplying art materials.

However, it has grown into a more substantial project. Teachers knew that students had a desire to explore and express their experience of the pandemic. Teachers also wanted to offer students the opportunity to think deeply about art and about their communities. Therefore, this has become a multidisciplinary program with topical themes and virtual classes taught by professional artists–as well as a mechanism to provide access to supplies. All participating students receive a packet of invitations to three interrelated virtual classes, two self-guided projects and a culminating exhibition at SVAC. (Some schools do not need supplies but are encouraging their students to participate in the activities.)

SVAC will exhibit student work and celebrate participants in March and April, as part of the annual Art from the Schools exhibition. We look forward to welcoming the community to view this exhibition.

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