RAAC youth program opening doors

By Anne E. O’Keefe
Rockford Area Arts Council

In its 21st year, the Rockford Area Arts Council’s ArtsPlace is a youth apprenticeship program exploring visual and performing arts. This year we were honored to be a finalist for the President’s National Arts and Humanities Youth program.

Apprentices work in teams with a professional artist to create art that is sold or performed for the public. Sales from these two events are pooled and distributed to apprentices based on things like; completion of work, showing up to work on time, wearing their ArtsPlace t-shirt, understanding they are representing their employer, RAAC, while in the community, as in performing for Kiwanis Brat days, or working at City Market, things that are very helpful when they find future employment. We have graduated over 1,100 youth who not only increased their artistic skills, but learned how to become a valued and responsible employee.OKeefe1

The ArtsPlace Gallery sale is at Mendelssohn Hall, 406 N. Main and is open Friday from 7-9 p.m. These one of a kind works of art make great gifts or can be added to your personal, original art collection.

Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. the Performing Art and Dance teams will have their final performance, Cha Cha Ephect’s: “Me” and “Facing Dafeet: Purpose Realized.”

We are thrilled each year to get support from these outstanding funders; National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council Agency, City of Rockford, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, Rockford Park District, Rockford Public Schools, United Way, Winnebago County and BMO Harris Bank c/o William Miller Charitable Trust. We are thankful for our friends at Rockford Dance Company and Mendelssohn for making a welcoming environment for the apprentices. Because community engagement and new experiences are always helpful to the creative process, the apprentices were invited to 317 Studio and Gallery, Rockford Art Museum and the farm of lead artist, Bruce McDonald.

Thursday, August 20 at 7 p.m. at CNVR, 317 West Jefferson St., RAAC and West Side Show Room are co-producing the Rockford New Play Festival, which will present six original 10-minute plays chosen from 520. Many thanks to the dedicated group of volunteers who did the first read through of 520 plays. Based on scores, the 27 finalists were then read by Nathan Davis who had the daunting task of choosing the six plays to be performed. Davis is Lorraine Hansberry Award recipient and is currently a Lila Acheson Wallace Fellow at Juilliard and a 2050 Fellow at New York Theatre Workshop. Local actors will read the works in the Readers Theater format. This year’s selections are: “Thin Air” by Tom Coash, New Haven, Connecticut; “Dividing Adam’s Ashes” by A. K. Forbes, Fort Thomas, Kentucky; “For a Moment, Rehatched” by Susan Goodele, Weston, Connecticut; “The Grove” by Paula Hendrickson, Rockford; “The Megaphone” by Michael Long, Burke, Virginia; and “Hydrangea Journal” by Derick Edgren, returning again this year, originally from Rockford. Last year this event was standing room only and we hope to have a great crowd again this year.

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