Arts students from two Washington County schools will head to Augusta—virtually—for an Arts Education Advocacy Day hosted by the Maine Alliance for Arts Education on February 17. The event kicks off a 10-day session in which high school-aged teams from all over the state—including Kali Wallander (freshman), Eastport, and Tristan Seavey (junior) and Hailey Calder (senior), Calais—will meet with state legislators to discuss the importance of arts in their schools, and how they’ve fared during this unusual year for arts education.

Young members of the Maine Alliance for Arts Education’s Arts are Basic Coalition (ABC) will work with teams from throughout the state, including a trio fo Washington County students, with an eye to maximizing arts education efforts in this unusual time.

“These students will play an important role in expanding community and legislative understanding,” said Alison Brennan, Eastport Arts Center (EAC) Education and Outreach Coordinator. “I commend them for taking an active role in their advocacy.”

Over the years, Wallander, Seavey and Calder have participated in a long list of EAC offerings for youth, noted Brennan, including theater, fine arts, crafts and music—from jazz to classical. The center has worked during pandemic closure to offer students online activities such as a youth art exhibition, Zoom-based workshops, arts camps and clubs, and on video, artists’ studio visits, monthly KinderArts crafts, and youth music performances. The center’s annual Vacation Week Arts Camp will be in full swing during the Advocacy Day event, making slotted lizards and accordion snakes.

Part of EAC’s transition to online youth offerings was the 2020 Summer Arts Camp. Session one of the camp was ‘I Wonder with Watercolors.’ Instructor Ann Cannizzaro (top right) worked with students via Zoom; EAC’s Alison Brennan (top left), joined the call with her grandsons.  

“It’s vital for us to make our community members, school leaders, school board members and legislators aware of the many benefits of an arts education. “It is something that benefits the whole child and should be accessible to all.” said Brennan, who has attended past Advocacy Day events in Augusta alongside Washington County students, including Nia Aretakis, a Washington Academy alumni and instructor of EAC’s KinderArts videos.

EAC Children’s Theater Workshop participants, from Kindergarten through high school-age, gather at EAC in early (pre-pandemic) winter 2020. Kali Wallender, who’ll participate with the Advocacy Day, is in the center of the back row. Photo by Robin Farrin.

Normally held at the Augusta State House, but canceled last spring due to the pandemic, Advocacy Day will this year be presented virtually on February 17, from 10 to 11:30 am. Organized by the Maine Alliance for Arts Education and the Arts are Basic Coalition, the event is open to members  of the public. More information may be found at http://maineartsed.org/arts-advocacy-day