Education Days funds free, accessible ArtPrize events for students of all abilities

Posted at 5:47 PM, Oct 05, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-05 17:47:24-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – While the top 20 finalists are getting most of the buzz in this final week of ArtPrize, there are plenty of activities for all ages, especially when it comes to students.

Education Days is an entirely different layer of ArtPrize that is dedicated to free events for students of all abilities. Ongoing since its first year, Education Days offers lesson plans, bus grants, and partners with several venues and the non-profit, Artists Creating Together (ACT)to make art accessible.

Monday at the Downtown Market, more than 300 students from 25 different classrooms took on an ArtPrize experience of their own for an Education Days event called “the five senses of arts.”

Students marched station to station focused on the senses, things like dancing, cooking, and arts and crafts. One of the biggest hits was students loading into a forklift to paint the sides of a new white semi-truck.

Executive Director of ACT Angela Steele said she’s impressed by ArtPrize organizers who enlisted the help of her non-profit to make venues inclusive.

“Are they asking school districts who’s coming, what sort of accommodations do they need, how many students are coming in a wheelchair, do you need the FM system hooked up to cochlear implants,” said Steele. “Those sorts of questions.”

Registration for Education Days’ classroom events ended about one week before the start of ArtPrize. However, the ArtPrize website offers lesson plans and bus grants for these programs that ArtPrize Education Manager Becca Guyette said about 13,000 students experience.

“ArtPrize is just a great learning experience, and there’s just so much to take in, so much opportunity for educators to build lesson plans and curriculum,” said Guyette. “It really sets the stage for the entire school year.”

Guyette said Education Days is only growing: their sponsor PNC Bank signed a contract for more than $300,000 to be spent over three years for Education Days’ programs.