August 10, 2014

Bechtler awarded grants to promote arts education in CMS

Amid ASC’s announcement to suspend support of CMS field trips, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art has received two grants to strengthen its Artists in Schools program.

If the Arts & Science Council can no longer bring Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students to the museums, the museums will take the art to them. That’s what the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art plans to do.

The Women’s Impact Fund awarded the Bechtler a $54,600 grant to be used over two years to expand its education and community outreach programs – including the Artists in Schools program, a program for incarcerated youth and adults and a new program for people with limited vision. And on Aug. 8, the Bechtler received a $9,000 grant from the N.C. Arts Council for the Artists in Schools program.

“Having both the Women’s Impact Fund grant and the North Carolina Arts Council grant allows the Bechtler to reach an even wider student audience in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools,” Bechtler Vice President Christopher Lawing said.

Since 2009, the Bechtler’s Artists in Schools program has sent artists into schools to teach lessons based on curriculum. This can be anything from a one-day talk or a multiday series of workshops. “For example, if a teacher wants a teaching artist and wants to incorporate geometry, we would work with the classroom teacher to do that,” Lawing said.

Partners with schools

The museum plans to create a more in-depth teaching artists program. Rather than sending more artists to schools, the money will be used to create more intensive programs.

“It can culminate in individual student projects or installation at the school,” Lawing said. “It’s pretty far-reaching; however, the basic premise is that it’s needs-based.”

Lawing said the grants will be used to pay for artists’ salaries, supplies, transportation and museum admission – with salaries and transportation being most costly. Every year, the museum partners with 12 to 16 CMS schools, and the schools change from year to year.

Trips in jeopardy

After not meeting its fundraising goals, the ASC announced July 29 it would no longer fund school field trips to cultural centers. Each year, seventh-grade students go on a field trip to the Bechtler. That won’t happen this year, Lawing said. Lawing said these grants are even more important now because of the cutback.

“Having this grant come at this time means that we can still do what we plan to do,” he said. “We still have mission-driven programs with students at the museum.”

The end of ASC-supported field trips affects Lawing emotionally. “I grew up in Charlotte, and I took a lot of field trips. That was a part of my arts learning, that was a part of my education, that was a part of being an arts professional today,” Lawing said. “So it’s distressing to not have it. It’s a different time, but we need to look for more ways to institute these experiences.”

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