Southeast Alaska is home to many artists, but very few are certified artist-in residence teachers. To obtain that qualification, artists have had to pay their own way to Anchorage for training, and that has proven cost-prohibitive.
The Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council hopes to solve that problem. It’s offering a day-long teaching artist academy in Ketchikan on March 7.
Christa Bruce is the education director for the Arts Council. She spoke last week to the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce about the new opportunity, which she said will be available to more than just Ketchikan artists.
“We’re establishing a model that is delivered through distance,” she said. “We’ll be broadcast from here, at the library, on March 7, and we will broadcast that remotely to nine other sites in Southeast.”
Those communities include Metlakatla, Craig, Thorne Bay, Hollis, Wrangell, Petersburg and Cordova, among others.
Artists who take the day-long training can become eligible to apply for artist-in-residence opportunities statewide through the Artist in the Schools program. That’s an Alaska State Council for the Arts program that helps school districts pay for artists to come to their schools and work with students on art projects.
Bruce, a former music teacher, said arts education can make a huge difference to some students.
“Arts, we believe, goes right down deep into the soul of kids, sometimes those troubled souls,” she said. “And in today’s world of marginalized young people: Disaffected, disconnected, maybe disoriented, I don’t know; but disenfranchised young people, which we’re hearing about, unfortunately, all day in the news. Art is one of those things that really changes that.”
To reach those children, though, artists need to learn how to teach. Bruce said the academy will be led by experts in brain-based teaching strategies. They’ll also teach the artists how to prepare lesson plans, how to integrate those lessons into a school’s curriculum, and how to manage all those kids for two or three weeks.
Bruce said the academy is open to all kinds of artists, from painters and sculptors, to blacksmiths and quilters. Artists who are interested in signing up should contact the Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council at 225-2211.