By Shawn McGowan, JobsInME.com
Celebrating 10 years of connecting Vermont job seekers and employers, JobsInVT.com recently selected our fourth quarter Live Work Give Contest winners, who each selected a nonprofit to receive a $500 donation, in their name, from JobsInVT.com. One of the Live Work Give contest winners was Chess Brownell, who chose River Arts of Morrisville, Vermont. I recently caught up with River Arts' Executive Director, Tracy Goldfine, to learn more about this organization that is dedicated to providing arts and humanities programs to community members of all ages and income levels.
What is River Arts' mission?
Tracy Goldfine, River Arts: River Arts mission is to enrich the community through the arts. We provide a diverse range of arts and humanities based programming to audiences of all ages with a focus on families, the elderly and at-risk populations within our community. We ensure that our programs are financially and physically accessible to all.
How important is art education and participation to youth and teen populations?
TG: Youth and teen programs are core to our work at River Arts. Early involvement in the creative process helps to stimulate and develop imagination and critical thinking, teach life skill such as developing an informed perception, articulating a vision, learning to solve problems and make decisions, building self-confidence and self-discipline, and accepting responsibility to complete tasks from start to finish. Engagement in the arts also nurtures team-building skills, teaches youth to respect alternative viewpoints, and builds an awareness of others.
Early arts education has a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of children and helps to level the "learning field" across socioeconomic boundaries. A 2012 study conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts found that socially and economically disadvantaged children who have high levels of arts engagement or arts learning show more positive outcomes in a variety of areas than their low-arts-engaged peers.
What are some new course offerings at River Arts this year?
TG: In 2014, we hope to expand our reach by again keeping programs affordable, and continuing to diversify and develop the programs we offer. Our roster of programs includes those that serve youth and families, the elderly, teens and adults. We also offer a robust schedule of community events, concerts, art exhibits, lectures, writing workshops, culinary workshops, and wellness programs. We will have a full schedule of summer youth camps, as well as on-going adult classes. For a full schedule of our programs, visit RiverArtsVT.org.
Does River Arts provide direct financial assistance for those unable to afford the classes offered?
TG: River Arts continues to live by its motto "Arts for Everyone" by pricing our classes and programs at modest rates. As always, we work diligently to provide scholarships to children and elders, and no one is turned away from our programs for financial reasons.
Can you tell us about your Elder Arts program?
TG: River Arts offers arts classes for our Elder Arts participants at two residential locations in Lamoille County. These classes include painting, collage, and polymer clay. Additionally, we offer two writing workshops for Elder participants at River Arts Center. Our Elder Arts program is free of charge to all who participate, thanks to the generosity of our supporters.
Are there any milestones that River Arts is especially proud of?
TG: In 2004, River Arts led a capital campaign and successfully raised over $1 million to purchase and renovate a historic building in downtown Morrisville. Today, the River Arts center is a place where community members of all ages, backgrounds, talents, and means explore their creativity and engage with each other.
Are there any upcoming events or fundraisers you could tell us about?
TG: Each spring, River Arts runs our Spring Concert Series, bringing a diverse range of music to downtown Morrisville. Please check our website for upcoming shows. In November, River Arts holds its Unique Experience Silent Auction and Dinner Annual Fundraiser.
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As a Social Media Marketing Coordinator, Shawn McGowan's passion for brand transparency and over 10 years of sales/customer service experience make him aptly suited for the job. A native of East Millinocket, Maine, Shawn grew up at the foot of Mount Katahdin and graduated from the University of Maine Presque Isle with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). When not writing, editing or immersing himself in the world of social media, he can be found enjoying the outdoors, art, music, tech, humor, Portland's amazing food scene, and all things nerdy. You can reach Shawn at smcgowan (at) JobsInME.com and Twitter.com/shonymac.