The Avalon Foundation Keeps Visual & Performing Arts Education Alive for Talbot County Children
The Avalon Foundation is known for its highly visible programs like the Avalon Theatre and Stoltz Listening Room, the weekly Farmers Market, and Plein Air Easton. Yet the often-untold story of the Avalon Foundation is about its significant work to improving access to arts education–in our local classrooms, in our Theatre, and on the streets of Easton.
Among pockets of affluence, many of the approximately 4,500 students who currently attend Talbot County Public Schools live with very limited resources. In fact, at our community school, Easton Elementary, 7 out of 10 kids in every classroom may not be getting enough to eat. 67% of the school’s students are minorities and nearly 20% of the students require some level of ESL (English as a second language) services. With the deck stacked heavily against so many kids, access to the arts is limited even though the impact of arts experiences can be life changing. Scores of studies have shown that children who participate in arts education have higher math and reading scores, better critical thinking skills, are more confident, are more collaborative and empathetic toward others, and are less likely to drop out of school.
That is one of the many reasons why the Avalon Foundation is so committed to bringing the arts into the lives of young people. In its 10th year, the Avalon’s Young Audiences Youth Outreach Program, made possible by generous long-term funding from Dock Street Foundation, is the centerpiece of the Foundation's work with children. In collaboration with the Talbot County Board of Education, the Foundation developed programming to enhance curriculum in each grade being served. It retained world-class performers for in-school residencies. Annually, the Foundation provides free bus-in performances during the school year to every child in grades 2 through 8 in the public-school system. These efforts were recently recognized by Talbot County Public Schools, which gave the Avalon Foundation its 2019 Community Award.
The Foundation offers many other programs that meaningfully enrich the lives of students in our community. ACT: Avalon Children’s Theatre is dedicated to providing training and diverse performance opportunities in the theatrical arts for children of all ages promoting creativity, teamwork and self-expression. Youth Summer Arts Camps are offered for young actors and creators of virtually every skill level, grades K-8. Begun nearly 2 decades ago, with a series of theatre camps these programs introduce young people to acting, singing, and dancing while also helping to develop self-confidence. This summer the Avalon added two additional weeks of summer camp, one which gave students the opportunity to write, direct and edit a film though MCTV and an art camp held during Plein Air Easton that connected campers directly with our nationally acclaimed competition painters. The Avalon Foundation presents its annual holiday play with a cast which includes 30-60 children. This is the only opportunity locally for young actors to work on productions alongside adult actors. The Foundation’s annual Plein Air Easton, one of the most beloved and prestigious painting events in the United States, includes a day devoted to The Next Generation featuring high level instruction, painting and sales opportunities for budding painters. Last, but certainly not least, the Foundation works with students to provide invaluable work experience through its internship program.
The Avalon Foundation’s strategic plan is focused on developing even more community engagement, inclusion and arts education. In that spirit, the Avalon Foundation is proud to announce its new Avalon Afterschool program piloted this fall at Easton Elementary School. Spearheaded by Jessica Bellis, Chief Operating Officer of the Avalon, and mother of two, this program will provide high level afterschool instruction in art, theatre, dance and storytelling. With the support of Crayola through its relationship with the nonprofit One Voice, students selected to participate in these programs will receive individualized arts instruction in the fields where they show aptitude. They will be given all the tools necessary to tell their own personal stories through arts. The students chosen to participate would not have the access to this type of experience without the Avalon Foundation and the experience will come at a $0 cost to the families or the school. The culmination of the afterschool program, will be an Avalon Art Day on May 8, 2020 where the students will have the opportunity to professionally exhibit their artwork, showcase their talents and share their stories onstage. Consider saving the date and celebrating their artistic journey.
Another highly anticipated new initiative is the Winter Shorts program, an idea born out of meetings with students and parents, through which all public, private and home-schooled high school students throughout the Eastern Shore region are eligible to submit a proposal to produce a play to be performed at the Avalon Theatre, based on either an existing or original script. Those selected have the unique opportunity to cast, direct and stage their play with mentorship by the Avalon staff.
Finally, the Avalon Foundation recognizes the importance of teachers and the incredible challenges that they face on a daily basis. Through generous support from George & Peter Pinkard and the France-Merrick Foundation, the Avalon Foundation has launched a “Tickets for Teachers” program which allows Talbot County Public School employees to enjoy concerts in the Avalon Theatre or Stoltz Listening Room at no cost.
Please support this important work with a contribution to support the Avalon Foundation's Young Audiences Outreach program today!
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Do not hesitate to contact us directly if you have any questions by calling 410-822-7299.