For many years, our Youth Art Program (YAP) served two anchor locations in the Yesler Terrace and Rainier Vista communities in partnership with Seattle Housing Authority. Though the YAP program saw tremendous success, it also faced a number of challenges. This time last year we began developing a new program model to address some of those challenges.
Our goal is to more closely align our arts education program with our mission and state academic standards while increasing access to our program within our home base of Southwest Seattle. This period of change inspired us to take our new program model even further to create an entirely new vision. As of January 2015, Nature Consortium’s Youth Art Program has become EcoARTS, an all-ages program that offers lessons inspired by, made from, or created in nature.
The new program produces a high-impact blend of arts and environmental education unlike any other program in the city. Classes are designed to meet the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) core art, environmental, and sustainability standards for K-12 students. We have also developed a large catalog of adult art classes as part of EcoARTS Encounters. Support from The Boeing Company allowed us to develop a new roster of professional teaching artists for the youth and adult classes.
In January, EcoARTS launched new partnerships with Seattle Public Schools’ Interagency Academy and Neighborhood House’s Seola Gardens Community Center to bring this refreshed program to their students. These classes have seen a great deal of success in just a short period of time, especially at Seola Gardens. In the EcoARTS: Natural Systems class at Seola Gardens, students in grades 1-6 have examined our local mountain systems by making 3-D volcano models of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Saint Helens, and Mt. Baker. Another activity used watercolor paints, oil pastels, and salt to illustrate the water cycle.
This summer we look forward to expanding our partnership with Neighborhood House at the High Point Center. Plans for a summer EcoARTS camp at the Youngstown Cultural Center are also underway. In addition to these exciting new program activities, our long-standing Garden Arts classes with Pathfinder K-8 School continue to thrive under the guidance of teaching artist Tara Migliore.
We look forward to continued success with EcoARTS as we strengthen our partnerships to serve more of our local community.