One may notice painted utility boxes near street corners, window art installations decorating store windows, and murals painted on select buildings throughout Mobile, thanks to the Mobile Arts Council’s (MAC) efforts. They’ve created a powerful platform for the Mobilans and Club kids at Boys & Girls Clubs of South Alabama (BGCSA) to appreciate and experience art by promoting a vibrant cultural community, increasing accessibility, and enriching their quality of life through art exposure.
In 2008, MAC began a partnership with BGCSA through their ChARTing New Directions educational outreach programming by providing arts education at area Clubs. Programming varies yearly based on funding and Club needs. Still, it has included year-round art instruction, summer-only programs, and public art-type projects where Club kids collaborate with area artists to create works of art. Some have included murals, window art, and community gardens.
“We have a great working relationship with the clubs and look forward to teaching the art program this summer,” says Lucy Gafford, MAC executive director. Last year, 2,494 Club kids were served at no cost to the Clubs and MAC provided art supplies and instructors.
Although supplies are needed for classes, art is more than a tangible object. “Art celebrates our differences while building our understanding for each other- our lifestyles, our cultures, and beliefs,” Gafford says. Also, art provides an outlet for self-expression, as evidenced in last summer’s puppet-making classes where they combined written, visual and performing arts through sharing their story with their peers. Club kids wrote their scripts, made puppets, and performed their skits during the Club talent show. The BGCSA program is unique because of participation in the summer. They can immerse themselves in art and create without a grade being attached to the class.
MAC hopes to expose more students to the arts through the AMP Up the Arts Program. with the goal of to building inequities in programs through the schools where access to art classes are limited. “Having art in classrooms, builds self-esteem and teaches communication. Art teaches life skills, confidence and prepares them for the future, Angela Montgomery, MAC development director explains. “Students also learn ownership in their community through beautification projects such as community gardens and wall murals. It gives them a sense of happiness and fulfillment.”
To learn more about the program, or how you can support or volunteer with MAC, visit www.mobilearts.org.