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Supporting student art: Arts in Education grants

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When The Nature Coast Technical High School Digital Video Production Program competed in the All-American High School Film Festival in New York City during October of 2021, they claimed second place with their short film titled “Waiting for the Punchline.” The production and submission of this film was made possible through a broad spectrum of community support, including a grant from the Hernando County Fine Arts Council. In the closing credits of the short film, an NCT Films student production, Hernando County Arts in Education and the Hernando County Education Foundation both received a special shout-out of thanks!

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“The Arts in Education grant was a blessing for what we needed to attend the festival, allowing us to buy all-access festival passes,” said Ian Wald, instructor of the Nature Coast Technical High School Digital Video Production Program. “And the production of the film gave my students an amazing real-world experience.”

That’s the whole idea behind the Arts in Education Grant, which the Hernando County Fine Arts Council awards to certified visual or performing arts teachers in Hernando County. The maximum grant request that’s permitted is $500. The purpose of this grant “is to support arts educators in delivering arts experiences to students in Hernando County.”

“I was drawn to the Arts Council because of their Arts in Education program. Our mission is to encourage, promote, support and showcase the creative arts here in Hernando County and the Arts in Education grant program offers us a special opportunity to better serve the growing minds and little artists of our area!” said Jessica Knutila, administrative assistant to the Arts Council.

Appropriately enough, this grant program is made possible with the support of the Hernando County Education Foundation. “Arts in Education grants are now being distributed in partnership with the Hernando County Education Foundation!” said Knutila. “We are so excited to work together with the dedicated team at HCEF to support the art teachers of our community.”

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All grant applications must align with the Arts in Education mission statement, which is to encourage, promote, support, and showcase the creative process for the benefit of K – 12 students in Hernando County.

A number of Hernando schools and educators have benefitted from Arts in Education grants. Explorer K-8 applied the Arts in Education Grant in 2021 to purchase a pottery wheel for the middle school art program. Each pupil created a piece of pottery and then displayed it in a school-wide Student Art Show at the end of the year. Entirety K-12 applied their school’s grant to the annual art gallery experience, titled and themed “Everything Wild” in 2021, that the school hosts at the end of every school year. Students painted murals and created an exhibit of student artwork presented at various locations throughout the entire school.
“Artwork that students have been working on all year long is put on display in different classrooms that are also designed to match the school’s theme for the year,” read information found on the Hernando Arts Council website.

“The theme in 2021 was “Everything Wild,” with artwork inspired by the wild west, our wild imaginations, and wildlife! There was also a short film created by students.”
“Entirety and Explorer both had school-wide student showcases,” Knutila explained.
Those interested in applying for Arts in Education grants should fill out the grant application found at https://bit.ly/3LskOMW and email it to Tammy Brinker, Chief Executive Officer of the Hernando County Education Foundation, at [email protected] with “2022-2023 Classroom Grant Application” as the subject line. Attach documentation as necessary. Your administrator must electronically sign & submit applications. NOTE : Handwritten applications will not be accepted, only applications returned via email will be accepted.
Applications are due by Oct. 7, 2022. All projects must be concluded by April 2023 and must include pictures, news clips, social media postings, or supporting media releases documenting the finished product.

See the short film “Waiting for the Punchline,” a comedy thriller produced by The Nature Coast Technical High School Digital Video Production Program and NCT Films by searching “Waiting for the Punchline (2021)” on YouTube.

“The arts council grant was the finishing touch we needed to make our film festival experience complete,” said Wald. “And we finished second in the world.”

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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