Arts in the Park Mark 10 Years of Summer Workshops


Brielle Looney, 8, shows off her clay artwork.

The CFO joins the Springfield Regional Arts Council in celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Arts in the Park Summer Workshops for at-risk youth from the Springfield Community Center.

According to the SRAC’s recent news release, more than 900 children have participated since 2001 in the eight-week program that focuses on artistic instruction from the city’s arts groups. This year’s participants include the Springfield Little Theatre, SRO Lyric Theatre, Springfield Ballet, Springfield Symphony Orchestra, the Claymobile (a mobile ceramic education program of the Arts Council and Springfield Pottery), the Moxie Cinema, and visual teaching artists, Kate Baird and Susan Goodman.

“The children are challenged to think, learn, engage, expand, commit, share, and dare,” said Calvin Allen, CEO of the Springfield Community Center. “By the end of each summer, the participants show significant growth in their ability to confidently communicate their thoughts and feelings to others through a variety of art forms.”

The CFO has been connected to the program since it began with support from longtime CFO donors and volunteers Rob and Sally Baird. The program is now supported by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional funding from the Missouri Arts Council, the Musgrave Foundation, and an anonymous donor.

Arts in the Park graduates have continued their participation in the arts through choir, band, dance, theater and visual art classes in their high school career.

“It [the program] has influenced me to draw more which will help me pursue a career in automotive engineering,” Chris Shields, 16, a graduate of the program and junior at Central High School, told the SRAC.

A new element of this year’s program is the Springfield Civility Project initiative, which the CFO also is participating in with other community leaders.  Arts in the Park includes a focus on the 10 tenets of civility being promoted through “Be Civil. Be Heard.” The project is intended to create a more welcoming and respectful environment where everyone’s views are encouraged and heard.

“We have had tremendous results,” SRAC Executive Director Leah Hamilton said. “All of our instructors, some who have been with the program since its inception, have said they have never known the students to be so engaged and behaved.”

This year’s graduation celebration will take place at 1:30 p.m., Friday, July 29. The students will entertain with a special presentation. The graduation is open to the public at The Creamery Arts Center, 411 N. Sherman Parkway, across from Hammons Field.