Arts education continues in Cumberland County amid COVID-19 pandemic

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Students who used computers to attend classes during the COVID-19 pandemic continued to learn about the arts, but some aspects have been changed.

Jane Fields is Deputy Director of Secondary School Programs and Instructional Services at Cumberland County Schools. She said elementary school students continued to take art, music and physical education classes while participating in distance learning. Middle and high school students also continued to learn music and become better singers and musicians, she said.

Middle and high school students still take visual arts classes, Fields said. The school system is in the process of hosting an annual juried art exhibit with the pieces on display in the Fayetteville / Cumberland County Arts Council building in downtown, she said.

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For music, students continued to learn to play instruments and are still able to use county instruments. The key is that students can still play, Fields said.

“We’ve even had marching bands in the stands in the first few games we’ve had in the last two weeks, so it’s even happening,” she said. “We bought the protective gear the students needed to be able to play safely at social distance.”

The school system was unable to set up wind bands, so schools did not have theatrical performances, concerts or orchestral concerts. The students could not put on any plays, but the school officials are trying to come up with a plan for each area of ​​the arts in order to have some type of collective performance.

The Sweet Tea Shakespeare Theater stepped in to help fill the void in theatrical performances.

Jeremy Fiebig, artistic director of Sweet Tea Shakespeare Theater, said the group ran a youth theater that continued to meet by video conference during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is now starting in-person programming, he said.

“We kept people busy keeping our students really busy,” Fiebig said.

Typically, theater programming is a workshop once or twice a month with a group of students learning things like ensemble building and acting exercises. Twice a year they host a Shakespeare boot camp where kids can meet after school via zoom with professionals dealing with Shakespeare lyrics, how to be in a play, how to play and stuff like that.

The arts can help children develop their confidence, character and empathy, according to Fiebig.

“Building character and developing empathy in our young people is something the arts do a little more than being on a sports team, in part because you work on plays we’re looking at. characters, we are looking at human behavior, ”he said. “It’s more than just playing your position, it’s working with other people and how to understand them.”

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Another avenue for arts education is the Arts Council, which supports various arts initiatives across the county. The council’s oldest program is its Artists in Schools program, which has served students in Cumberland County schools for over 45 years.

As part of its mission, the Arts Council supports individual creativity, cultural preservation, economic development and lifelong learning through the arts.

“Arts education is integrated into all aspects of Arts Council outreach. From gallery tours with student groups, to artists in schools, to youth education programs – the Arts Council supports local artists and community partners who work directly with Cumberland County youth to deliver artistic and cultural experiences, ”said Kennon Jackson, executive vice president of the Arts Council. “Of the more than $ 1.1 million granted by the Conseil des arts last year, arts education was at the heart of the organization’s donations.

The Arts Council supports community partners including Fascinate-U, Cumberland Choral Arts, Gilbert Theater, Cape Fear Valley Medical Foundation and others. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some community organizations were able to adapt their programs, according to Jackson.

“(Art partners) were able to pivot – many of them pretty quickly – to include virtual and online components for their arts education,” Jackson said.

An example of a virtual transition has been the ability of Cumberland Choral Arts to produce pre-recorded shows through their Youtube channelJackson added.

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Editor-in-chief Akira Kyles can be reached at [email protected]

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