Program exposes kids to the arts

PARKERSBURG – Arts Encounters, a new program to offer area students a chance to experience different types of art, will he held Wednesday through May 14 in downtown Parkersburg.

Working with Wood County Curriculum Supervisor Kim Mathews and local art teachers, an Artsbridge committee headed by Linda McCormick is partnering with the Actors Guild of Parkersburg and the Parkersburg Art Center to introduce middle school students to arts opportunities and experiences.

Students will have the opportunity to step inside the world of “Shrek The Musical,” the production running at the Guild. Actors and technical crew will offer students a glimpse into the stagecraft and technical aspects of what goes into mounting a show.

At the art center, students will tour the art exhibit and participate in a watercolor workshop, producing their own paintings, given by local professional artist Virginia Killian.

Mathews said about 60 students from sixth through eighth grades will be participating in the program from the county middle schools and Williamstown High School. The students were chosen by their teachers as having an interest or aptitude in the arts, she said.

“We’re trying to get middle school kids involved in different things,” Matthews said, adding the program could expand in the future if successful.

Artsbridge will provide lunch for students and teachers, materials needed for the workshops and transportation to and from schools. The “Arts Encounters” project is designed to engage students, many of whom have not had the opportunity to attend plays or art shows, in the artistic and cultural life of their community.

“We believe this project can start students on a life-long involvement in the arts, creating the audiences of the future and inspiring a new generation of artists,” McCormick said.

Funding for Arts Encounters has been provided by Artsbridge, contributors to the United Arts Fund Drive and a grant from Peoples Bancorp.