Mulvane receives $10, 000 grant for Art After School

The Mulvane Art Museum recently received a $10,000 grant from The Women’s Fund to sustain and expand its Art After School Program-a program that provides teachers and art supplies to 25 afterschool locations for children free of charge.

The Art After School Program depends on corporate sponsors, foundations and individuals to provide the funds for the wages and art supplies; an invaluable service considering that most of the children affected by the program are no longer being taught art in their public schools.

“I think only two elementary schools here in Topeka still have art in their curriculum,” said Cindi Morrison, Director of the Mulvane Art Museum. “The no child left behind Act has educators focusing on math and reading in order to get their Adequate Yearly Progress scores up so they don’t loose their state funding. It’s really made it hard for art to be a part of the classroom curriculum.”

Many of the Mulvane’s outreach programs were funded through the Kansas Arts Commission, and lost about $25,000 of funding last June with the defunding of the commission.

“$0.29 a person is what the Kansas Arts Commission cost each Kansan annually,” said Morrison. “We’re fortunate to have the additional support to cover that loss through a variety of corporate sponsors here in this area that have allowed us to sustain what we have been offering, and expand to other classrooms and afterschool sites.”

Art After School was established in 1993, and was designed by Kandis Barker,Curator of Education at Mulvane. Barker is in charge of hiring educators to teach the program, and believes that art is important at all levels of human development.

“It supports, particularly for young people, fine motor skills and hand eye coordination,” said Barker. “We’ve got art supporting language arts from pre-reading to content understanding. Art also supports mathematics and social studies. There is nothing closer to art than social studies because we’ve had people making art since the beginning of time.”

Barker added that art bestows children the ability to, quite simply, finish things. It teaches them that, even when a project isn’t going as planned; the end result is what matters. It teaches them to push forward until their task is complete.

“There was a kid in an afterschool program who said he wanted to be an architect,” said Barker. “He said, ‘an architect designs buildings, but the important thing first is my imagination.’ I thought that was pretty fascinating that he recognized that the imagination comes first.”