Harvest funds Piedmont Arts’ ARTStart, increasing local access for arts education

Harvest funds Piedmont Arts’ ARTStart, increasing local access for arts education
(From left) Zion Powell and Laila Gravely create art projects and crafts while attending child care programming at Sharon Martin’s Martin Family Daycare in Martinsville.

July 24, 2017

A preschooler’s artwork is more than child’s play. Research shows that a young child who is exposed to the arts — whether it is by listening to a musical performance, doing a craft or watching a play — is more likely to succeed in kindergarten and beyond.

That is why, with assistance from a $10,000 Harvest Foundation Pick Up the Pace! (PUP) grant, Piedmont Arts is launching ARTStart: A Preschool Arts Initiative on Sept. 1. ARTStart is designed to increase the awareness and importance of the arts and enhance accessibility to the arts for children up to age 5.

“We are excited to partner with Piedmont Arts on the ARTStart initiative to bring this important learning experience to young children,” said Sheryl Agee, impact officer/team leader with Harvest Foundation. “Children learn through play and open-ended activities. ARTStart will focus on process art which aligns perfectly with how kids learn as it allows them room to be themselves, make their own decisions and just create. It is a great first step in developing tomorrow’s innovative thinkers.”

Kathy Rogers, executive director of Piedmont Arts, said museum staffers are excited to be able to launch ARTStart, a preschool arts initiative designed to integrate the arts into area child care centers and raise awareness of arts education at an early age.

“As we explored this idea in partnership with Smart Beginnings Martinsville Henry,” Rogers said, “we realized how important the arts are to early childhood development. ARTStart will focus on long-term systemic change by nurturing an appreciation of the arts in Martinsville-Henry County’s youngest community members.”

"Process art ... is a great first step in developing tomorrow’s innovative thinkers."
- Sheryl Agee, Harvest Impact Officer

The program will target Martinsville-Henry County area preschoolers and home and center-based child-care providers in the area through Smart Beginnings. Specifically, it will work with children up to age 5 in the Albert Harris Elementary School area of the city and the Sanville community in the county through Smart Beginnings’ Promising Neighborhoods initiative.

Process art stresses the process of making art more than the final product, according to the Museum of Contemporary Art as reported on the “Fun-A-Day” blog.

According to Piedmont Arts, when the arts are woven into a preschool curriculum, it enhances a child’s ability to succeed in kindergarten. A child who has been exposed to and is engaged in the arts is more likely, later in life, to be academically successful, graduate from high school and aspire to attend college, research shows. ARTStart also will give children, families and child care providers a chance to develop into future artists and create an audience for area arts performances and exhibits, according to Piedmont Arts.

Preschoolers will have access to various kinds of arts activities, including visual arts and crafts, music-based activities, and drama or theater through the Smart Beginnings coalition and Piedmont Arts programming. Among other activities, Piedmont Arts will hold “Preschool Days” at its museum with arts activities geared toward preschoolers.

Other key parts of the program include:

  • Creating workshops for home and center-based providers on how to implement process art as a critical piece of child development programming;
  • Supplying needed arts instruction materials for providers;
  • Creating mobile arts tool kits for providers, called ARTStart on the Go, similar to Piedmont Arts’ Treasure Chest program for K-12; and
  • Bringing music-based programming to Piedmont Arts that is targeted to preschoolers.

ARTStart also will help area child care programs achieve higher scores and recognition in the Virginia Quality Rating and Improvement System, which offers resources and support for participating child care centers, preschools and family child care homes statewide.

Among other things, ARTStart will provide arts materials for classrooms and provide professional development opportunities to help child care providers and educators incorporate process art, music and dramatic play into their lesson planning and/or curricula, according to Ruth Anne Collins, early education coordinator with Smart Beginnings.

For instance, Smart Beginnings will give child care providers and educators inventories of materials for art, music and drama, Collins said. “If they are lacking any, say drawing materials, dramatic play clothes or props, we can help them figure out what they have or don’t have and how to get it.”

Child care programs and early education classrooms in Promising Neighborhoods will benefit from ARTStart and help establish benchmarks and track outcomes. Other groups, in addition to Carlisle School’s Zip, Zap, Zop program, will come to the museum to do preschool programming.

Harvest PUP grants, available up to $10,000, are designed to encourage collaborative thinking, brainstorming and partnerships, leading to positive change in local neighborhoods and communities.

Smart Beginnings Martinsville Henry is an early education initiative of the United Way of Henry County & Martinsville that seeks to ensure that all children enter kindergarten with the skills needed to succeed in school and life. The Promising Neighborhoods initiative of Smart Beginnings targets the needs of children and parents in the Albert Harris and Sanville neighborhoods.

Piedmont Arts ARTStart 2017
From right to left, Kathy Rogers, Joyce Staples and Sheryl Agee. 


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