Youth Arts Celebrates 40 Years
Camden — While most people were ditching their hippie look in favor of hot pants and platform shoes on Nov. 1, 1972, a group of creative and inspired locals, with the assistance of a mini-endowment of $1,145.61, were creating the Youth Arts Program Charitable Trust. Originally an informal group known as the Camden Chapter of Young Audiences, Youth Arts has evolved into an organization that raises roughly $22,000 a year and is run entirely by volunteer parents — working with teachers and artists who have a vested interest in bringing arts to the schools of SAD 28.
Beginning as a way to connect students and teachers with artists and large performance art, Youth Arts now connects the teachers with artists and media they would like their students to experience throughout the school year. Teachers use their current curriculum to ensure that the various residencies and performances tie in to their teaching, then submit their proposal ideas to the Youth Arts Program Committee for approval and assistance.
The numerous residencies and performances Youth Arts has sponsored throughout the past 40 years have ranged from small, grade-specific art projects to filling every seat of the Strom Auditorium for large-scale performance art. Events include a performance of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” performed by the Children’s Theatre of Maine; and the photo book “Our View,” which was published with funding by Eastman Kodak and coordinated by the seventh grade team of teachers. In that Youth Arts-sponsored project, Camden-Rockport Middle School seventh graders were given cameras and 24 hours to capture a day in the life of Camden/Rockport locals. The best of the 25,000 photos that were taken that day made it into “Our View.” This project, inspired by teachers, supported by parents, local businesses, residents and the Kodak Center for Creative Imagery, is typical of how Youth Arts collaborates with the local community.
Youth Arts also partnered with Bay Chamber Concerts for the memorable performance of the world-renowned Golden Dragon Chinese Acrobats. Most recently, Youth Arts supported the production of “Phantom of the Opera” at Camden Hills Regional High School, bringing in professional artists to teach the students costume design, hair and makeup, and scenery work.
Some Youth Arts-sponsored projects become permanent installations for current and future students to enjoy for years to come. In the CRMS cafeteria, there is a 20 foot-long mosaic mural inspired by Eric Hopkins’ art and created by more than 200 students and artistic volunteers. In the Camden-Rockport Elementary School lobby, one can look up to see all of the beautiful, student-made, individually designed “FishES” that seem to move with the breeze.
Art to celebrate 40 years
Youth Arts’ “10by10” artwork is currently on display at Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, shown in the window at the corner of Main and Museum streets, and will move to Rockport Public Library and finally to the Camden Town Office Main Street window. Artists submitted works within the size limits of 10-by-10 inches, and Christine’s Gallery in Lincolnville donated all framing materials and framed the 15 pieces. At Youth Arts 40th Anniversary Celebration Saturday, Nov. 3 at High Mountain Hall in Camden, these pieces will be sold for $200 each. Youth Arts will keep half and the artist will receive half.
Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.