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Art Mark summer program: 9 weeks of art education

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Hernando kids are going to make their own mark on the county’s art scene this summer, when they paint, draw and perform away the season at the “Art Mark” summer art classes hosted by the Hernando County Fine Arts Council. This nine-week session of affordable, interactive art classes scheduled from May 31 to July 29, will teach a full palette of artistic skills to elementary, middle and high school students. Registration is now open.

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This second annual “Art Mark” program has been expanded to include a fuller regimen of artistic skills including drawing, painting, animation, dance, cosplay, culinary, global art, STEAM, and murals. With a limited class size of 15 students, pupils are guaranteed individualized attention in “Art Mark” classes. Classes are for students ages 5-17 years and are grouped by age levels. For elementary students, classes will meet on Monday – Friday 9 am to 12 pm. Middle and high school classes will meet on Monday – Friday 1 pm to 4 pm. “We are excited to bring a fun, creative, and cognitive experience to the students of Hernando County with our summer art program ‘Art Mark’. We want to make arts education available to children of all ages, regardless of interest, experience, ability, and income. Our class fees are under $100. This program consists of introductory classes to gain a basic conceptual understanding of various art forms and interests. All are encouraged to join,” read information found at the Hernando County Fine Arts Council’s website.

This program marks a continuation of a successful summer education program intended to enlighten and inspire a whole new generation of artists. Art Mark Class Coordinator Kure MacDonald explained, “Last year we had a total of 120 seats available for ‘Art Mark’ summer classes. Of 120 available, 60 seats were filled with aspiring student artists. ‘Art Mark’ piloted 3 classes as a part of the ‘Art in Education’ initiative set by the Art Council’s Strategic Initiative for 2022.
Those classes included Dance (June), Visual Arts (July), Music (August). Ergo, we served exactly 50% of the available spots filled during Summer 2021 as a piloted program. We had great feedback from parents/children and supporters with requests to offer these and/or additional diverse Visual Art classes again for Summer 2022.” A parent last year said, “This is necessary for our children’s education and we are willing to support the council and have input as they get started.”
MacDonald sees “Art Mark” as a component of a larger mission to promote and support the arts in Hernando County. She states, “As a part of our mission to support the arts and artists of Hernando County residents, we saw only necessary to move forward with planning of ‘Art Mark’ 2022 summer art classes. As program coordinator again this year, I aimed to offer a summer of inspiring and stimulating art integrated classes for Hernando county students. I sought parents, students, local artists, teachers and council members’ input to generate 9-weeks of art education in Hernando County.”

As a result, “Art Mark” is bigger and better than ever. MacDonald states, “As a council, we are elated that our tenacious work and planning has afforded us the ability to welcome an exciting 270 seats at the Welcome Center in Brooksville. In an appreciative partnership with the Florida Adventure Coast, The Hernando County Fine Arts Council is eager to see students make their art mark this summer.” Yet MacDonald states the true essence of arts education goes far beyond the teaching of artistic skills. She states, “When you teach kids the arts, you teach kids a sense of self-advocacy, broadening their perspective in respect to creativity. It develops communication and focus in kids. These classes will show them the arts that are available in life.”

MacDonald revealed that last year’s debut of the “Art Mark” program had visual arts classes in particular selling out quickly. “As per parent requests, this year’s classes are longer and cover more subjects,” she said.
The registration cost for “Art Mark” is $15 per student, a cost that includes a t-shirt, class folder, and all class materials. All classes aside from “Art in Motion” (Dance) will be held at the Brooksville Welcome Center, 205 E Fort Dade Ave., Brooksville. “Art in Motion,” the “Art Mark” dance class, will be held at Dance First, 20060 Cortez Blvd., Brooksville. “Dance and theater are important additions to our ‘Art Mark’ program,” said MacDonald.

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Heading up the dance camp for ‘Art Mark’ is a veteran Hernando dance teacher Jane Geddings. She gave a little insight to what the students will be learning, which is:
Elements of classical ballet, which will also expose students to classical music and the masters who composed them
Different styles of jazz, focusing on all styles of this American art from Luigi to Broadway, with a nod to ballet influence Rhythm patterns in tap, with varying time signatures and accents, to create their own percussive sound
Fundamentals of hip-hop

At the end of the camp, there will be a final performance for students to perform in. Greddings stated, “And because Dance First, LLC is at the back of Funtastic Gymnastics, students will have the opportunity to check out what happens there as well. “Funtastic Gymnastics is a fun place with aerial silks, trampolines, tumble track, lots of balance beams, and more. It lives up to its name.”

Geddings also expresses gratitude for this arts-based learning opportunity. “The Arts Council and the ‘Art Mark’ program are grateful to Christy Chestnut for providing her facility for these classes,” she said. “With the sprung Marley floor, and mirrors, barres, props, etc, it is the perfect place for students for all things dance.”

All of the “Art Mark” classes are overseen by art council members and area artists who are true masters at their craft. In addition, many classes will feature guest speakers who are living examples of artists who have turned their passions into careers. One featured teacher this year is Art Gallery Coordinator for the City of Brooksville Pedram Moghaddam. He stated, “My class topic will involve a mixture of hands-on practical art and technology. Today we can use our phones and computer programs as sketchpads to record our ideas for artwork.”

In Moghaddam’s eyes the “Art Mark” program is another great artistic concept. He stated, “When it comes to developing the artistic skills of young people, it’s important that we reach them sooner than later. Art teaches so many lessons, not just about drawing, but about life lessons and self-therapy.” This year’s “Art Mark” program also features a number of student-teachers who add a youthful and highly creative perspective to the proceedings; All while earning credit hours toward Bright Futures scholarships.

“Art Mark” student-teacher Ely MacDonald looks forward to sharing his artistic skills with this summer’s pupils. He states, “I really appreciate being able to pass along my gathered skills in performing arts, in which I have studied and trained for the last 5 years, to other students. It not only gives me the ability to meet others with my same interests, but it also allows me to give back to my community.” Ely MacDonald encourages other area young people to follow his lead. He states, “I would recommend other students looking to gain experience in teaching or wanting to get more involved in the arts to come help with the program or sign up for a class to increase your skills.

Beth Putnam, chairperson of the Hernando County Fine Arts Council, feels that Art Mark is a valuable supplemental program for arts education in this area.She states, “The Arts Council strongly believes in arts education for children, and ‘Art Mark’ is designed to supplement art education in schools. Statistics show a positive correlation between art education and increased test scores and creative thinking. Beyond that, education in the arts helps support the social and emotional learning needs of students, helping them succeed both in and out of school. With ‘Art Mark’ our aim is to equip students for a brighter future.”

This year’s “Art Mark” schedule is:

Elementary classes: 9-12 pm / ages 5-12 / 15 seats available per class
Upcycled Hands: May 31 – June 3, $50
Globally Inspired: June 6 – June 10, $60
Anime Art: June 13 – June 17, $50
Art In Motion-Dance: June 20 – June 24, $100
A Muralistic World: June 27 – July 1, $100
Culinary Art Adventures: July 5 – July 8, $60
Elements of Drawing & Painting: July 11 – July 15, $60
STEAM Artist: July 18 – July 22, $50
Character “You”: July 25 – July 29, $50

Middle & high school classes: 1-4pm / ages 13-17 / 15 seats available per class
Upcycled Hands: May 31 – June 3, $50
Globally Inspired: June 6 – June 10, $60
Anime/Cartoon Drawing – June 13 – June 17, $50
Art In Motion-Dance: June 20 – June 24, $100
A Muralistic World: June 27 – July 1, $100
Culinary Art Adventures: July 5 – July 8, $60
Elements of Drawing & Painting: July 11 – July 15, $60
STEAM Artist: July 18 – July 22, $50
Cosplay Closet: July 25 – July 29, $50

For more information, please visit the Hernando County Fine Arts Council website.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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