Advocating for your program can require creativity on your part. Let me share what I called the Roadrunner Art Walk. The event received its name from my school’s mascot, the roadrunner. I created an art show, showcasing my students’ art work along the main street of my district. I contacted businesses regarding allowing me to display the works, facing out to the street, from their storefront windows. Families and community members could walk along the street enjoying the student work displayed. The steps I used to organize this event follow.
First, I composed a letter inviting businesses to take part. I actually walked up and down Main Street to hand deliver them to make that personal connection and get any immediate feedback. I found that I received a variety of responses… some businesses absolutely loved the idea, some agreed with less excitement, others decided late, and some did not respond to my invitation at all. It all worked out well as many businesses agreed to participate. I even communicated with the local newspaper which was so enthusiastic that the editor sent a photographer to take pictures of students hanging their work and published an article advertising the event. He was also very helpful in spreading the word to other businesses through the town’s Chamber of Commerce. Next, I had to organize the show.
- I took photos of store fronts to determine size and number of pieces each could accommodate.
- I framed the art works to honor each student’s work and to make the best possible impression.
- I created a spreadsheet of businesses and the work to be displayed at each along with business hours so I knew when I could hang pieces.
- The biggest challenge, or so I thought, was going to be to hang all the art work. It actually progressed rather quickly and several businesses required or offered to hang the work themselves. Those 3M clips work quite well for hanging, where necessary, as they come off cleanly after the exhibit. Many store fronts have existing hooks and nails to hang their own displays or in some instances I just set the art work on the window sill when that worked best. Again, I just had to be creative.
I planned and communicated an end date (about two weeks later) to come back and pick-up the art works. The Roadrunner Art Walk was quite the success. Families and especially students were excited and proud. Many made an event of locating their child’s art work and then finding lunch somewhere in town afterwards. The community was able to view the type of quality art work students had been creating and in turn what my art program was facilitating the creation of. The newspaper’s coverage reached a far greater number in the community and helped educate them on the art program. I wish you all the best if you should try this for your school and community. Start out small, and if it is successful, it can grow.Today's guest post author is Thom Knab, who has been teaching at Dodge Elementary School in the Williamsville Central School District here in NY State for 27 years. His name may seem familiar to some of you, because Thom has been serving as NAEA Elementary Division Director from 2015-2017. He also served as NYSATA Host State Committee Chair for the 2017 NYC NAEA Convention, and was NYSATA President from 2013-2015, and was Vice President from 2012-2013. Thank you, Thom, for giving us a wonderful idea that could be easily adapted for many communities.