The Dairy Arts Center in Boulder is trying to get as many people as possible engaged with the arts. KGNU’s Julia Caulfield reports on how one program is reaching out to some of the youngest in the community.
The music is loud and the energy is up as a group of Kindergartners from Alicia Sanchez Elementary School, dance around the room. They are at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder for the morning as part of the Kids at the Dairy arts education program.
Students get to participate in workshops taught by different arts organizations in the morning, and at the end they get to watch a show performed by the artists.
Kids at the Dairy works with kindergarten students at Title 1 schools in Boulder Valley School District–those are schools where 40% or more of the students are on free or reduced lunch. The goal is to help reduce the achievement gap, and increase the accessibility of the arts for at risk youth. Since 2014, they have worked with 1,208 children at six different elementary schools.
Bill Obermeier is the Executive Director of the Dairy Arts Center. He says that when young children have access to the arts, it can broaden horizons and help them engage with the world around them.
“The arts…create more rounded people, that stimulates creativity. And helps so, if you think about kids at a young age, if their creativity is expanded, all of a sudden they have a better opportunity of doing better in school…but also maybe being more likely to be an entrepreneur because they’re more creative in how they think about the world.”
The Dairy also makes a point of having a diverse range of art forms for the students to experience. So far they have collaborated with 14 different arts organizations, from the Kutandara Center, to Boulder Ballet, to Grupo Chegando Lá. Today the students are working with Streetside Dance. They’re learning about hip hop, breakdancing, and graffiti. And at the end of the day they get to watch a performance from Streetside Dance.
Kinkaid Davis is one of the Kindergartners at the Dairy from Alicia Sanchez Elementary School.
Can you tell me a little bit about what you were doing here today?
“I was doing hop dancing. We’re making pictures of hop dancing.”
So what kind of drawing are you doing now?
“I’m doing the kind of hip hop dancing drawings.
They can put their name up, they can put jokes up, they can put people up…they can have lots of colors up on there.”
Do you like coming to the Dairy?
Why do you like it?
“Cause I like the dancing one we did today.”
Jessica Rothman is a Kindergarten teacher at Alicia Sanchez Elementary. She has been bringing her students to Kids at the Dairy for five years. She says the program helps to develop community within her class, and allows her students to see different ways of engaging with the arts.
“A lot of our kids don’t have experiences to see performances or go to museums or things like that, so I think it’s also really important for them to have this opportunity to know how to behave in a performance or to look at art and really appreciate it. So I hope they take that experience and are wanting to go and do those things in the future, and look for opportunities, but also that they kind of have an idea of how to approach it in the future, because of this.”
Students get a chance to come to Kids at the Dairy twice each year, and while they are currently only working with Kindergartners in the Boulder Valley School District, the Dairy would like to work with different school districts, and expand their programs to reach preschoolers. They would also like to start a summer arts program for low income students.