The Rockford Area Arts Council has been shaping the lives of teens in our community through ArtsPlace for 12 years. This year, the program moved to college.
Through the generosity of Rockford College, our somewhat previously nomadic program landed with each of the teams in one location. The Clark Arts Center has been a perfect location for our visual arts teams, dance, drama and video.
The apprentices, who are between 14 and 19 years old, learn skills such as preparing for interviews, how to complete a job application, how to work as a team member and how to retain employment. All these skills are learned through the arts. Professional artists teach skills and mentor the youth. This year, apprentices were motivated to make sales and sell tickets to the performance because their compensation for the program was based on the entire groups success.
ArtsPlace has historically been a program with high visibility downtown. Apprentices who utilized spaces at New American Theater were able to spill out onto the mall to entertain the lunch crowd. Visual artists also displayed and sold their wares. This year, the apprentices did take their show on the road one afternoon in July.
Another public venue for the dance team was Kiwanis Brat Days in front of Loglis. We do not know where the program will be located next year, but we work very hard each year to raise awareness of this vital program. This program allows youth to positively express themselves while learning job skills but, more importantly, they learn more about who they are.
Dont miss An Evening with the Arts ArtsPlace Benefit, Thursday, Aug. 3, 5:30-8 p.m., at the Clark Arts Center. Suggested donation is $5 at the door.
We wish to thank our generous supporters for giving us the chance to change lives!
Anne E. OKeefe is executive director of the Rockford Area Arts Council.
From the Aug. 2-8, 2006, issue