Premier Arts brings fine arts to 1,200 third graders - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Premier Arts brings fine arts to 1,200 third graders

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Schools across the nation have had to face budget cuts, and one of the first things to go for many has been art and music programs. Elkhart Community Schools are making sure every child is exposed to the fine arts before 4th grade, and one organization is stepping up to get 3rd graders to step into the spotlight.

After spending the day at Elkhart's Lerner Theatre, third grader Javon Chavis says he and his friends have no fear of the spotlight anymore. "My old comfort zone didn't have lots of fun and jokes, and now my new one does," says Javon. Third grader Zoe Hooley says, "I was on a stage and I learned a dance to the song 'Happy'. Some of the parts were easy, and some of the parts were really hard for me!"

1,200 Elkhart Community School 3rd graders spent the day at a fine arts workshop thanks to the Premier Arts Organization. They learned the basics to dancing, acting, creative writing, and visual arts. Executive Director Craig Gibson says the idea came from a talk by Elkhart Community Schools Superintendent Rob, Haworth. "He said, 'Imagine if everyone in the community played a part in making the community whole,' and we really took what he said to heart," says Gibson. He says Premier Arts is not trying to make the next superstar, but rather, trying to create citizens that have an appreciation for the arts.

Gibson says each 3rd grader was sponsored by a donor for $33, and says every penny is worth it. "The talent is extremely developed here. It's remarkable. I'm not from here, but I'm amazed," says Gibon. He adds that all the 3rd grade classes were split up giving children the opportunity to meet kids from other schools.

Acting instructor, Tanner Smale says some kids find out they have talent too late. This workshop helps avoid that problem. "As a kid, you're trying to find out what your niche is, who you are, and what you're good at," says Smale. He says 3rd graders make the perfect fit for the program, "It's a good age. They're not too young where they're too squirrely, and they're not too old where they're not going to listen to us," says Smale.

Director of Operations and Education Sue Frost-Mayse says the Premier Arts workshop goes way beyond exposing the kids to fine arts, "We teach team building, we teach confidence. Kids aren't afraid to go up on a stage and sing or say anything, even if they're in a group."

This is the first year Premier Arts sponsored this fine arts workshop. Nearly 100 volunteers came out to help with the event, and they hope to do it again next year.

Premier Arts offers individual and group classes, workshops and training in theatre, music and dance. The organization is based in Elkhart, Indiana. For more information about Premier Arts like upcoming classes, workshops, and show auditions, click here.
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