Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 46
The Orcutt Children's Art Foundation offers educational art programs to young artists
BY JOE PAYNE
Health begins in childhood, and positive habits made when young can have a lasting outcome on life. The school curriculum commonly excludes arts from the daily educational diet due to budget constraints, but some local organizations help pick up the slack by supplementing schools with much-needed programs.
The Orcutt Children’s Art Foundation (OCAF) has been working toward rounding out curriculum with some good, old-fashioned creativity. Thanks to the support of grant funding, OCAF’s board of directors and executive director can ensure that visual arts, performing arts, dance, and music are taught within the Orcutt Unified School District.
“When you look at these kids and the skills that they will need when they get [older], the arts teach them,” OCAF Executive Director Hannah Rubalcava said. “It’s creativity, problem solving, teamwork, imagination—and not one single core course teaches all that.”
OCAF isn’t limiting itself to just school-day art classes, but also organizes and provides several supplemental arts programs. Rubalcava is helping develop an OCAF that can support what it does during the school day with these professional, yet affordable classes.
“Arts funding arts, that’s our goal,” she said. “We’d really like to become self-sufficient, which is where the Arts Academy comes from.”
The Arts Academy is the umbrella under which OCAF provides these classes, which include a string ensemble program in collaboration with the Central Coast Music Academy, a glee club with PCPA’s Kitty Balay and local singer Amy Curti, and a six-week visual arts course taught in March at Pine Grove Elementary School.
“I’m in the process of starting a new program,” Rubalcava said. “I met with a nonprofit out of the Bay Area, and it’s a global arts program where kids make cultural crafts. They do aboriginal paintings from Australia, Oaxacan animals, Egyptian portraits, puppets from India, [and] they learn about graffiti in America, so there is a variety.”
Arts programs, when studied, have shown the capacity to produce more diligent students, students that are less stressed, and more emotionally healthy people. A solid education can increase the likelihood of mastering a skill at a professional level in adulthood and serve as a cherished, lifelong creative outlet.
“I’ve always said I’m not an artist, but when you start creating, it is such a great release,” Rubalcava said. “I think that we all get so caught up in our lives that we don’t take the time to express ourselves and focus on one thing, and creating a space to do that, I think, creates good mental health.”
Performance art and visual art, especially when showed publicly, can also help develop confidence. And an achievement tends to mean more when shared with a group of peers and respected elders.
“The glee club and string ensemble kids had a performance together,” Rubalcava said. “There were only about six kids in the string program for its first run, and they did a performance, and all the glee kids were very impressed, especially with the bass, I think, because it’s so deep and you can feel the sound in your belly.”
OCAF leaders want to have a variety in programs, thus the school-day programs offer an expanse of styles, and usually focus on a historic period or certain genre.
“We’re just trying to get as many different types of art out there because it seems that something always speaks to someone,” Rubalcava said, “and if someone can explore their own creativity, we want to support that.”
Expanding the programs, whether through the academy or in school classes, is something that will continue to build with time and increased support and awareness of OCAF. Rubalcava hopes to see a day when the Arts Academy can offer classes to adults as well as children, perhaps even in a physical location, rather than working out of the schools, as OCAF currently does.
“I think it would bring a lot to our community if we had an arts center,” Rubalcava said. “That is my longtime dream.”
Those interested in OCAF programs, or the foundation’s gala fundraiser next month, can find more information at orcuttarts.com.
Arts Editor Joe Payne always supports more art. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.