By ANDREA C. TURNER
Late in October last year, Progressive Arts Alliance announced its name change to Arts Impact as the organization prepared to celebrate its 20-year anniversary in 2022.
While its name has changed, the organization is committed to the same mission: bringing learning to life through art. Since its founding in 2002, its programs have positively impacted more than 35,000 students, primarily through its main program partner, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD).
Arts Impact offers arts integration residencies and arts enrichment programming, developed and taught by professional artist-educators. The organization partners with schools and local non-profits to spark creativity, explore hands-on learning, and increase student engagement. Research has shown that arts provide powerful avenues to learning and can greatly improve academic outcomes in other areas of the curriculum, outside of the arts.
The tagline reflects the mission of their work. The arts impact: HEARTS by encouraging us to understand, empathize and heal; MINDS by helping us learn and grow; LIVES by developing creative thinkers, problem solvers and lifelong learners.
“We are proud of the difference we have made in students’ lives through the years by offering them a path to self-expression and unique ways of learning,” said Clyde Miles, Board President for Arts Impact. “Going forward, we can make an even stronger impact with the new brand that better reflects our work.”
This year, the organization is focused on deepening its impact by identifying five target schools where they work extensively as well as an array of programs in other school and community settings.
Of particular interest is Arts Impact’s recent work with students at CMSD’s Sunbeam School, a Pre-K through 8th grade school, located at 11800 Mt. Overlook Ave. The school presents a special model within the district, as about half of the 450 students have significant medical, orthopedic, or developmental needs. Approximately 100 students attend classes alongside their neuro-typical peers, and the remainder work in self-contained classrooms, with staffing and resources to accommodate needs such as visual impairments, medical fragility, intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, or autism. Arts Impact works within 15 general classrooms and 10 self-contained classrooms.
One group of medically fragile third- through eighth-graders have used art to explore winter and the five senses. These students are nonverbal and require hand-over-hand assistance as they work. During their first session, they touched large ice molds, poured salt on them to speed up the melting, listened to snow and ice falling, illuminated their sculptures, and even smelled the ice (scented with pine essential oil). The students’ excitement and engagement in this experience was amazing.
A fourth-grade class studied geometry while creating a Two View Triangle Installation. They designed three-dimensional decorated paper triangles that look different from various viewpoints. They learned about angles, triangles, composition, color, and sculpture. This art installation is now on display at Sunbeam School.
Adults can join Arts Impact staff and supporters this summer, the evening of Wednesday, August 17, as they gather at RED space, a modern, industrial event space located at 2400 Superior Ave. E. in Cleveland. This fun, interactive event will celebrate the past and share some exciting new plans and projects for the future. They will honor longtime Board member Chann Fowler-Spellman for her 15 years of dedicated service to the organization.
“Chann has worked diligently on our Board of Directors for more than a decade, sharing her time, talent, and treasure. She served as Board President and for many years, helped guide this organization through significant growth and change, positioning us for future success,” said Rick Grahovac, Arts Impact Executive Director. “She is a tremendous asset to our entire community, especially in education and the arts.”
Visit artsimpact.org for more details about event tickets and sponsorship opportunities.
Arts Impact, formerly Progressive Arts Alliance, celebrates its 20th Anniversary
By ANDREA C. TURNER