Woo-hoo! It’s a happy day here at Arts for Learning, as we were thrilled to receive the Dominion Energy ArtStars Award for Eastern Virginia last night at the Virginia Commission for the Arts’ live virtual conference. Dominion Energy presented the award, which comes with a $10,000 prize, for A4L’s “Take 10” digital programming, recognizing the project’s innovation, enterprise, and artistic quality.
When Virginia’s schools shut down last March, more than 350 hours of our programming was canceled, threatening our mission to connect students with the power of the arts. But our mission was not interrupted. Within days, the Arts for Learning office in Norfolk was transformed into a makeshift recording studio, artists took a leap of faith and tried something new, and our program team figured it out on the fly, including how to shoot and edit video while following strict safety protocols required by the global pandemic. The result: 118 ten-minute video segments that served as engaging and educational art breaks for students and families who were suddenly thrust into remote learning.
Take 10 was a major team effort,” says Christine Everly, CEO of Arts for Learning. “We had no budget, no prior expertise, and no production studio—but we knew we had to find a way around those obstacles. Especially during the COVID crisis with students learning at home, we needed to reach them through the power of the arts. And we also wanted to provide some income for our artists who suddenly found themselves unemployed.”
Participating artists received stipends for their work on Take 10. The program ended in June, but Arts for Learning’s commitment to quality virtual arts programming did not. Thanks to an investment in new video technology and additional training for staff and artists, Arts for Learning now offers dozens of virtual arts experiences to schools, libraries, and community centers. The $10,000 ArtStars’ prize money will support Arts for Learning’s efforts to continue to build a digital library of engaging and innovative new programming to connect students with the arts, wherever and however they are being schooled.