Teaching artist Mac Bellner leads her “Mama I’m Bored – Pioneer Games” workshop at Lanesville Community Schools.
Martha Beckort has been the media specialist at Lanesville Community Schools for 21 years. In addition to working with grades K-12, Martha collaborates with faculty to coordinate teacher professional development, assemblies, and other events, which is how she first came to Arts for Learning.
“I think I got a flyer in the mail or something,” Martha says, “and we realized how great your performances would work for our assemblies.” That was 15 years ago, and Lanesville Community Schools has been booking our performances ever since.
About five years ago, Martha began applying for grants from the Indiana Arts Commission to bring Arts for Learning workshops to the district. Any grants received by the IAC are automatically matched by the local community foundation, the Harrison County Community Foundation. Thanks to Martha’s effort and dedication, Lanesville Community Schools has received about $10,000 every year for Arts for Learning workshops in the visual arts and music classrooms.
“The children absolutely love [the workshops]!” Martha says, “The students that experience these workshops tell their friends, and then I have students coming up to me asking, ‘When do we get to do the drumming workshop?’” Martha understands how much value these programs have for the children. “It’s an experience they wouldn’t be able to have anywhere else,” she explains.
Grant writing may seem intimidating, but Martha assures teachers it is not. “Staying organized and having strong writing skills is key,” she insists. The regional director for the Indiana Arts Commission as well as the local community foundation sponsor grant-writing workshops in her area, and she highly recommends taking advantage of opportunities like these. Martha also says asking the community to help out is a good option too. “Ask a business to fund a program. You’d be surprised how many say ‘yes.’”
Like most of us who support the arts, Martha recognizes the importance of arts in education programming, but also the difficulties of funding. Her commitment to providing a well-rounded education for students led her to resources that she may not have found without effort and dedication.
Funding the arts is not as daunting as it may seem. For more ideas, check out our resources page here.