Faithful blog readers know I've been involved with Art All State for the past 10 years-- and it's a program I firmly support. Founded in 1987 it's run at the Worcester Art Museum every year since. I suggested and supported an initiative to make it a National event, and we even took steps to make that happen.
Essentially it does for art students what several national music programs do for music students in high school.
It also brings in some 150 FAMILIES to WAM, many for the very first time. It allows art students, some from very small schools, to interact for an entire weekend with like minded individuals, both peers and professional artists. It allows them to see that art CAN be a vocation or vacation for the rest of their lives.
It allows them to understand the importance of art-- and in today's economy where more and more school systems are cutting art funding Art All State becomes even more important.
It's short sighted to cut funding-- imagine the world we would live in without design, without art. Even if you are not an art enthusiast you appreciate the design of your new phone, your car, your home, the films you watch, the books you read, the look of a new restaurant--ALL of these things are born from the vision of artists who had those visions nurtured through an educational system that helped them to achieve those visions.
The world suffers without art.
I don't have any official word that Art All State has come to an end, but with the moving on of both Gillian Bonazoli and Christopher Whitehead, both of whom have acted as AAS Manager these many years, it's seriously in doubt. I also know that I've gotten some THIRTY emails from students and parents looking for information, which is so unusual it tells me WAM is not answering any questions directly-- and therefore in my best Columbo esque examination of events leads me to believe they are planning on not running the program this year.
And that is a huge mistake.
I suspect they will use the line "just for this year" but that's a cop out-- this is an extremely important event and the powers that be need to recognize what it accomplishes, not just a huge influx of people into WAM for the weekend but a change in the minds and attitudes of those people as to what art and art museums can be.
I've heard over and over again in my years with the program that this was the first time they'd been to a museum and actually ENJOYED it.
The world will suffer without it, and so will WAM.