Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
This doesn’t seem to be a problem in the Roaring Fork Valley, especially with the creativity pouring out of The Carbondale Council for Arts and Humanities in preparation for the sixth annual Green Is The New Black Fashion Extravaganza: Down the Rabbit Hole, on March 14 and 15.
This past Sunday, 60 models and performers were rehearsing in one room, 10 dancers were rehearsing in another, a handful of designers were finalizing fittings, and a crowd of volunteers were cutting, painting, and gluing props together in the CCAH classroom. In it’s sixth year, GITNB has grown from a small show to something much larger, involving more community members and diversity of talent than ever.
But the purpose remains the same: to raise money to make arts education more accessible for youth in the community. Not only does GITNB bring adults together to create one of the largest creative collaborations in the Valley, but it also is meant to bring the arts to Roaring Fork Youth.
“Our adult artist community in Carbondale is strong, but we want to insure our youth have the same opportunities.” said CCAH/GITNB Director Amy Kimberly. “Though the art teachers in the Roaring Fork School District are top notch, our schools continue to reach out to us to help provide an array of creative choices to prepare our youth for the 21st century.”
Kimberly went on to share the Gallup Student poll that The Aspen Community Foundation’s Cradle to Career Initiative administered this past fall with the region’s four school districts.
Data showed local youth well-being, engagement, and hope scores are below the national average, with only half expressing hope for the future. However, Kimberly remains positive.
“Research associated with the Gallup Poll states that student engagement and well-being can be improved through the development of individual talent and providing opportunities for learning and laughter,” she said. “CCAH is offering those kinds of experiences to youth in our growing arts programs.”
Between GITNB, individual donors, and grants, CCAH raises over $20,000 to fill the gaps in art education through free after-school art classes, youth scholarships, and subsidized bilingual piano classes, along with curriculum-based offerings. Those funds also support the Carbondale Middle School Theatre Arts program, which wouldn’t exist without the support of CCAH.
Kether Axelrod, Carbondale Middle School’s theatre teacher, works with 50 students up to three days a week. The Theatre Department offers a home to many youth who are not interested in sports but want to be engaged in something outside of academics.
Axelrod strongly believes in theatre education, emphatically stating, “it is a powerful experience for the kids that participate. It boosts confidence, is known to increase reading skills, reduces bullying, and brings kids of different socioeconomic and ethnic groups together.”
Back to Picasso’s belief that every child is an artist. CCAH wants to ensure that the artistic spirit of Carbondale and its surrounding communities is instilled in our youth community.
Arts learning opportunities offer youth the skills and habits that are vital in the 21st century, where creativity and innovation are among the skills required for success in school and the modern day workplace.
“Creativity,;observing as opposed to simply seeing,;identifying as well as solving problems,;thinking outside the box;and communicating with not just words but with images, sounds, and motion, these and more are inherently part of a regularly scheduled, quality arts education program,” wrote Doug Herbert of the U.S. Department of Education.
Whether you buy a ticket to the Green Is The New Black for the benefit of arts education, or for a night out on the town, it is sure to be well worth it. Between the colorful and innovative fashion, the interactive digital imagery, film, live singing and dancing, and a Wonderland-esque installation, the audience will find themselves amidst a visual feast for the eyes and ears.
“This particular fashion show, Down The Rabbit Hole, is going to take the audience on an adventure they are sure to remember,” says Kimberly. “The quality and diversity of artistic talent that has poured out of the community into the making of this show will blow your mind.”