The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded the Sheldon Swope Art Museum a grant of $10,000 in support of the museum's new school program Rural Arts Initiative. The Swope is one of only eight arts organizations in Indiana to receive the prestigious award The National Endowment for the Arts is a federal agency that funds arts-related programming across the United States
The Rural Arts Initiative (RAI) is the most recent education program offered by the Swope. RAI was enacted to aid rural schools who lack teaching resources or who are canceling art programs all together. In the face of constricting budgets, it has become a disturbing trend for rural school districts to slash funding for the arts. In many cases, schools are wholly without visual arts, music, and theatre programs. RAI was established to provide resources such as lesson plans, texts, and visual aids to teachers in rural schools who lack adequate materials and who are geographically isolated from cultural institutions such as an art museum. Teachers can use the materials to integrate lessons in visual art with other academics such as language arts, history, and science.
Explains Nathan Richie, Curator of Collections and Programs at the Swope. "Indiana has very rigorous academic standards to which every educator and student is held accountable. The days of single subject classes are over More and more, teachers are incorporating materials from two or more subjects in their daily lessons. Resources provided by the Rural Arts Initiative will help teachers integrate those lessons in savvy and engaging ways."
Classroom materials are only the first step for the initiative. Plans for the program also include interactive online programs, in-class visits by museum educators and guest artists, and field trips to the museum. "Resource materials are only a tool for teaching about art. There is absolutely no substitute for real interaction with a work of art," said Richie.
The program is still in the development phase and won't officially debut until fall 2004. "Although we are just at the very beginning stages of this program, it has already received a warm welcome from many teachers in rural communities," explained David Vollmer, Museum Director. "The Rural Arts Initiative is one example of how the Swope is expanding its role as a community resource. Now that we have completed the final phase of renovations, the Swope is poised to grow in the 21" century and increase its services to the people of the Wabash Valley."
The Swope is located at 25 S. Seventh Street on the corner of Ohio Street in downtown Terra Haute. The museum is open Tuesday-Friday, 10-5, Saturday and Sunday, noon-5. Admission to the Swope is free For more information, call (812) 238-1676 or online atwwwswope.org.