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Grant to bring the arts to Mount Clemens students

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published January 6, 2016

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MOUNT CLEMENS — The Anton Art Center in Mount Clemens was recently awarded a $50,000 grant that will allow it to bring hands-on arts instruction to Mount Clemens Community Schools students.

Executive Director Phil Gilchrist explained that the grant, gifted by the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan’s Detroit Auto Dealers Assoc. Charitable Foundation Fund, will be used to implement educational arts programming for all students within the district.

“It was an easy decision to choose Mount Clemens schools to be the recipient of the grant,” said Gilchrist. “They’re right in our backyard and I’m a 2001 graduate.”

Gilchrist said he worked closely with the district to form a plan for the grant.

“We have been eagerly awaiting the benefits of the grant,” said Mount Clemens Community Schools Superintendent William Pearson.

“Because we worked with Phil to develop the grant, it will fill gaps in our arts programming. We are thrilled that Phil recognized the need and sought a way to eliminate it. The programming the grant will provide at every level is both age-appropriate and engaging.”

The grant will provide hands-on arts instruction to students in order to fill an immediate gap in arts education, he said.

“We have received similar arts grants in the past, but nothing of this scale,” Gilchrist said. “This will allow us to reach every last student at Mount Clemens Community Schools.”

Through May of this school year, the Anton Art Center will bring in artist instructors from across many disciplines to provide four-part art classes to each elementary and middle school classroom in the district, offering direct arts engagement to over a thousand students. And high school media studies students will be engaged in designing street-lamp banners focused on Mount Clemens history for display in and around downtown Mount Clemens.

A portion of the funds will be used toward an Artist-in-Residency program in the district starting in September 2016 and continuing through the school year. Residencies will be designed to meet the standards and requirements of the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs Arts in Education Residency program.

Artists in residence will work directly with students to produce works of art, assist teachers to create arts-infused lesson plans, and give art lectures and presentations to the students and surrounding community.

Lastly, The Anton Art Center will direct a portion of the funds toward extracurricular arts programs, and funds will also be allocated to support field trips and excursions for Mount Clemens students to visit local arts and culture organizations.

Pearson believes the arts are an important element in every child’s education.

“The gap between the availability of arts instruction for students in low-poverty schools compared to those in high-poverty schools, results in economically disadvantaged students not getting the enrichment experiences of affluent students,” he said. “This grant begins to fill that gap. Closing that gap is important because the creativity that all businesses crave is formed and nurtured in the arts.”

The Anton Art Center is currently accepting applications for teaching artists to implement the artist-in-residency component of the program. For more information, go to www.theartcenter.org.

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a full-service philanthropic organization. As a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations, the Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development and civic affairs. Since its inception, it has distributed more than $700 million through more than 52,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties. For more information, go to www.cfsem.org.