Art in school, and on the go

Stu­dents at Al­ex­an­der Adaire Ele­ment­ary School check out and show off their work last Fri­day as part of the Port­side Arts Cen­ter Mo­bile Arts Ini­ti­at­ive. COUR­TESY OF PORT­SIDE

With spring around the corner, the Port­side Arts Cen­ter is more act­ive than ever. One on­go­ing pro­ject is the Mo­bile Arts Ini­ti­at­ive, which brings Port­side arts in­struct­ors dir­ectly in­to schools. Next, the cen­ter hopes to take its in­struc­tion on the go in a 40-foot long bus.

Kim Creighton said the Port­side Arts Cen­ter is, to a child’s eyes, like a candy store.

Eye candy, that is.

“When the kids come here, they freak out be­cause there’s so much [ma­ter­i­al]. They’re so ex­cited, they’re be­side them­selves,” said Creighton, found­ing dir­ect­or of Port­side Arts Cen­ter.

With that in mind, Port­side de­cided to bring the ex­cite­ment dir­ectly to the kids.

In 2010-2011, Port­side began its first Mo­bile Arts Ini­ti­at­ive Pro­gram at Al­ex­an­der Adaire Ele­ment­ary, 1300 E. Palmer St. That pro­gram ini­tially provided two arts classes and one mu­sic class for more than 40 stu­dents, who at­ten­ded after-school classes twice per week at the school. Port­side staff in­struct­ors were in­vited back for the 2011-2012 school year, dur­ing which it held a mur­al arts pro­gram for 6th- and 8th-grade stu­dents.

Creighton said Adar­ie’s stu­dent coun­cil came up with the theme of “di­versity” for its mur­al, which now hangs in the school hall­way.

Last Fri­day, Port­side wrapped up its latest Mo­bile Arts in­stall­ment with a show­ing of stu­dents’ work at Adaire. The next school Port­side will vis­it is Moth­er of Di­vine Grace, 2612 E. Mon­mouth St.

Now, the Port­side Arts Cen­ter, 2531 E. Le­high Ave., con­tin­ues to im­ple­ment arts-fo­cused pro­grams throughout the River Wards.

This year, Port­side re­ceived sup­port from State Rep. John Taylor (R-177th dist.) through the Im­pact Ser­vices Cor­por­a­tion, which al­lowed the cen­ter to reach out to six loc­al schools with 20 arts classes.

And though the in-school pro­grams have been wildly suc­cess­ful, Creighton said stu­dents are much more ex­cited about be­ing in the cen­ter it­self than in their re­spect­ive schools.

“When we go to the schools, it’s not really stim­u­lat­ing. They get so much more ex­cited in Port­side, when we get them out of their schools,” she said.

To that end, Port­side hopes to con­tin­ue its Mo­bile Arts Ini­ti­at­ive in the 2013-2014 school year with the help of a con­ver­ted 40-foot donated bus that will serve 15 schools in the great­er Kens­ing­ton, Port Rich­mond and Fishtown areas.

The con­ver­ted bus, Creighton said, would serve as a mo­bile arts classroom in or­der to bring stu­dents out­side the walls of their schools. The bus will park out­side the school, and won’t move while stu­dents are in­side. Port­side is ad­vert­ising it as a “mini-field trip.” The bus will be able to ac­com­mod­ate 20 stu­dents at a time. With its sig­ni­fic­ant stor­age space, the pro­posed bus will help al­le­vi­ate over­crowding and stor­age is­sues in­her­ent in the cur­rent format of the Mo­bile Arts Ini­ti­at­ive.

Creighton said that the res­ult of the Mo­bile Arts Ini­ti­at­ive is plain and simple en­thu­si­asm.

“It makes kids want to go to school,” she said. “Par­ents say to us, ‘My kid loves to go to school on Tues­days and Thursdays,’ kids’ grades are get­ting bet­ter,” she said.

Port­side has also seen an in­creased mem­ber­ship since the im­ple­ment­a­tion of the Mo­bile Arts Ini­ti­at­ive. Since the pro­gram is en­dorsed, es­sen­tially, by the schools it vis­its, Creighton said, par­ents feel good about let­ting their kids par­ti­cip­ate. Port­side also of­fers schol­ar­ships to its pro­grams worth hun­dreds of dol­lars.

On March 21, Port­side was also in­volved in an art ex­hib­i­tion at Mem­ph­is Street Academy Charter School, 2950 Mem­ph­is St. The ex­hib­i­tion fea­tured a se­lec­tion of paint­ings, draw­ings, pho­to­graphy and mixed me­dia by Phil­adelphia artists. It was co-cur­ated by Jenna Wilch­in­sky, as­sist­ant dir­ect­or of Port­side Arts Cen­ter, and Am­ber Gan­zelli, an art teach­er at Ta­cony Academy Charter School, 1300 Ru­an St. 

Wilch­in­sky said of Fri­day’s show­ing at Adaire, “The par­ents who at­ten­ded the event were so proud of their chil­dren and can not wait to have the pro­gram back next year. All of the chil­dren from grades 1-4 were so amazed at all of their peers’ beau­ti­ful art work as their teach­ers lead them around the ex­hib­it.”

Port­side also took on a su­per­vised ment­or­ship with two stu­dents from the El Centro de Estu­di­antes school. For the past six months, Chrys­tal Cruz and Jayl­isa Perez worked along­side Port­side staff on their sen­or pro­ject, “How to Cur­ate an Art Show­ing.”

Of Port­side’s work, Creighton said, “It’s not just art, it’s not just fun and us­ing cray­ons and paint. Our mis­sion is to build the self-con­fid­ence in kids, to have them say, ‘I did this.’”

Port­side is seek­ing cor­por­ate spon­sors to fund the Mo­bile Arts Ini­ti­at­ive bus for one year.The pro­ject go­ing for­ward will be fund­ing by grants, fun­drais­ing, cor­por­ate spon­sor­ship, an up­com­ing kick­ cam­paign, and com­munity dona­tions. Vis­it the Port­side Arts Cen­ter on­line at www.port­sidearts­cen­, or call 215-427-1514.

Star Man­aging Ed­it­or Mi­kala Jam­is­on can be reached at 215-354-3113 or at mjam­is­

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