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Arts Encounter plans changes

Brent Null teaches a class on theater to students in the Artsbridge Arts Encounter program. This year’s program will be held at the schools rather than downtown venues. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — Artsbridge has announced a change in its annual Arts Encounter program for middle school students this year.

Presenters will go to the schools rather than students coming downtown for programs, according to Amanda Stevens, executive director of Artsbridge. Participating schools are Edison, Blennerhassett, Hamilton, VanDevender, Jackson and Belpre middle schools.

This year’s presenters will be Mary J. Ayson-Lemon, Brent Null and Suzy Gunter.

Lemon is the owner of Watering Can Art Studio at the Grand Central Mall. Lemon, who will conduct a two-hour pottery workshop at each school, is bringing her pottery wheel to give students the opportunity to experience throwing pottery on a wheel.

Null has directed and performed in many productions at the Actors Guild of Parkersburg. He will be conducting a two-hour theater workshop with students.

Middle school students create art in the Artsbridge Arts Encounter program. (Photo Provided)

Gunter is the owner and director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Ballet Company. Gunter will teach a workshop on choreography and dance performance.

In previous years, schools participating in Arts Encounter bused students to downtown Parkersburg where they would spend a full day.

Students in the morning watched a live performance at the Actors Guild and learned about what goes into a theatrical production. Lunch would be at Artsbridge and then students would go to the Parkersburg Art Center for the afternoon where they would create art and explore the gallery.

The Arts Encounter program was created for middle school students, Stevens said.

“We leave it up to the art teachers at each school to select up to 20 students whom they feel would benefit the most from the program,” she said. “Keeping the groups under 20 students allows us to keep it a very interactive, hands-on experience.”

All programming has been adapted to keep with the COVID pandemic guidelines.

Arts Education programs such as Arts Encounter are funded by the Ohio Arts Council, the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, West Virginia Commission on the Arts, Spartan Foundation, McDonough Foundation, PARS Foundation and by donations from individual donors and private businesses.

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