People often ask how SPARK! works. Here is how our amazing arts education programs are made possible as well as how you can contribute.
Five years ago, Phyllis Washington learned about the Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child initiative, and she saw the enormous potential for increased arts in our schools to make a positive and lasting impact for Montana kids. The community of Missoula pulled together to meet the common goal of providing equitable arts access for Missoula students. The process entailed a Community Arts Teams comprised of leaders from many areas of the community meeting together with Kennedy Center leaders to create an action plan for achieving this lofty goal. In short, Missoula was approved as an Any Given Child community, and we are now in our third year of implementation. SPARK! increases arts learning by more than 700 hours per year through over 100 arts residencies and 9 Arts Enhancement events.
The next question we often hear is, “So how does all of this get paid for?”
The Kennedy Center supports SPARK! through training, educational resources, and a thriving national network. We do not receive finances toward our programming through the Kennedy Center. SPARK! is a non-profit under the fiscal umbrella of Arts Missoula. Part of our approval as an Any Given Child site was an agreement with Missoula County Public Schools to include arts integration residencies as a part of their educational model. Major contributions to our funding come from The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and Logjam Presents. We also partner with the City of Missoula and local businesses, including Allegiance, Stockman Bank, and First Interstate Bank. The Montana Arts Council helps us fund dance integration at every K-8 school. Finally, individual donations allow us to extend and improve our programming, reaching more children and offering more arts opportunities.
Support for SPARK! in Missoula County Public Schools happens through both art for art’s sake and arts integrated residencies. The MCPS general fund provides for three elementary visual art teachers shared by the nine elementary schools as well as a general music teacher for every elementary school and a traveling band and orchestra teacher who work with 5th grade students.
In the middle schools, the general fund provides a full time band, orchestra, choir as well as an art teacher for each school.
K-5 Arts Integrated Residencies
Every K-5 classroom in MCPS has access to learning through the arts through an integrated arts residency funded by the District’s general fund. SPARK! Teaching artists partner with classroom teachers to create custom lessons combining art forms and other subject areas. Students are engaged in learning through Visual Arts, Theatre, Dance, Music, Poetry, and Media Arts to develop skills and understandings in Math, Science, English Language Arts, Physical Education and Health. Currently, MCPS supports arts integrated programming for approximately 5 arts residency sessions per classroom per year. Contribute to elementary arts integration to expand residency lengths to 6-10 sessions and add arts residencies in PE classrooms, libraries, etc.
With the amazing collaboration and passion of Missoula educators, artists, organizations, parents, and business leaders, SPARK! aims to continue bringing arts into schools indefinitely. We also aim to expand our resources to welcome additional school districts to benefit from the Initiative. In order to ensure our sustainability and allow for growth, we will need to bring in additional funding sources.
Here is a detailed description of programming that is currently offered and specific needs that we plan to meet.
Grade Level Arts Enhancement Events:
SPARK! aims to provide equitable access to excellent arts experiences for EVERY student in MCPS. One way that SPARK! provides access is through yearly Arts Enhancement experiences. Each grade level attends a professional arts performance or gallery each year during Kindergarten through 8th grade, and we hope to extend these experiences to high school students. Some of these events are sponsored to continue indefinitely, but others are in need of financial support to continue. We are seeking funding for:
Kindergarten puppetry–Puppeteers will perform a curriculum connected puppet show for all Kindergarten students at each school. Teachers will be provided with follow-up materials to support teaching and learning through puppetry. $2000
2nd Grade MCT–Students travel to Missoula Children’s Theatre to see a professional play related to grade level curriculum content. The experience includes classroom visits introducing students to basic theatre skills and audience etiquette. $4500
3rd Grade Dance–All 3rd grade students attend a professional dance performance. Teachers are provided with follow up materials for teaching and learning through dance and movement arts. $4000
8th Grade Music/Arts with UM–All 8th grade students experience the Fusion Music concert, showcasing a wide variety of instrumental and choral musical forms. We hope to extend this experience to include hands-on arts experiences in visual art, media arts, dance, and theatre following the music concert. $2500
High School Enhancements: Our goal is to expand our Arts Enhancement offerings so that every student in MCPS K-8 will have access to a memorable and impactful arts experience each year. A $3000 donation will ensure that a complete 9, 10, 11, or 12 grade group of students will attend a performance or gallery.
Put a class of students on a bus to experience an arts event for only $75.
K-5 Arts Integrated Residencies
Every K-5 classroom in MCPS has access to learning through the arts through an integrated arts residency through a sustained commitment from the District. SPARK! Teaching artists partner with classroom teachers to create custom lessons combining art forms and other subject areas. Students are engaged in learning through Visual Arts, Theatre, Dance, Music, Poetry, and Media Arts to develop skills and understandings in Math, Science, English Language Arts, Physical Education and Health. Currently, MCPS supports arts integrated programming for approximately 5 arts residency sessions per classroom per year. Contribute to elementary arts integration to expand residency lengths to 6-10 sessions and add arts residencies in PE classrooms, libraries, and counselling programs.
Add a full residency to a grade level for one school for $600 per year.
Contribute an additional session to an existing residency for $150 per year.
Add one hour of additional arts instruction for one classroom for $50.
Middle School Arts Integrated Residencies:
SPARK! provides innovative arts residencies for middle school students, connecting classroom learning to various art forms. Swing dancing in PE class, hearing and writing origin stories in Social Studies, creating and performing Theatre in Spanish, African music in World History, and writing and directing original films in Science are some of the learning experiences Middle School students experience with SPARK! Sponsor a classroom or a grade level!
One integrated arts session in one middle school classroom: $50
One integrated ars session in for a whole grade level (ex: one African Dance session for 6 seventh grade social studies classes at one school): $350 (per year)
Provide a full 6-session Integrated Arts Residency at one middle school: $1900 per year
Provide a full 6-session Arts Integrated Residency for one grade level at all 3 middle schools: $5,700 per year
High School Integrated Arts Projects:
Kids don’t stop learning through creation and innovation when they enter high school! High school students are engaged and challenged by arts integrated learning, and the arts provide outlets for self-expression, avenues for understanding various perspectives, and development of 21st Century Skills. SPARK! is among a few Any Given Child sites pioneering programming at the high school level. Several successful programs have already been implemented in MCPS high schools (read more here). Help us to fully realize our goal of providing equitable access to arts education for ALL students by contributing to our high school programming.
One Art for Art’s Sake Friday at Seeley Swan High School: $270
One teacher/artist partnership for 6 classroom sessions: $350
One teacher/artist partnership for 12 classroom sessions: $600 per year
Sponsor a full grade-level arts integrated interdisciplinary unit: $3000 per year
Thank you for supporting equitable arts access for students in Missoula County Public Schools!
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