Students at the Kentucky Center Governor’s School for the Arts (GSA) at Centre College recently stepped out of their studios and classrooms to take to the streets of Danville for a day of service.
The artists volunteered at locations across the community, including Shaker Village, McDowell Place, the Community Arts Center, Camp Nelson Cemetery, Wilderness Trace Child Development Center, Pioneer Playhouse and the Danville Family YMCA.
GSA Program Manager Christephor Gilbert believes service is a crucial element of the students’ arts experience.
“One of the hallmarks of GSA is the emphasis on students not only getting as much as they can from the faculty, guest artists and interdisciplinary activities but also giving as much as they can,” he explains. “It is important to us as an organization that the community where the program is in residence feels that we are responsibly giving back in some meaningful way.”
Many disciplines managed to incorporate their artistic talents into their volunteer efforts. For instance, many of the visual artists dedicated their time to beautifying downtown Danville: some prepared the windows of Main Street’s Gilcher Building for a new mural (pictured right), while others weeded the flowerbeds in Constitution Square.
In addition, musical theater students had the opportunity to perform vocal solos for members of the assisted-living community at McDowell Place.
Cassidy Lacey, one of the musical theater artists and a rising junior at Grant County High School, believes their performances exemplified a meaningful connection between art and service. “This was an amazing opportunity to use our talents in a way that positively affects our community,” she says.
Emma Collins, a visual artist and rising senior at duPont Manual High School, also understands the importance of community outreach.
“As artists we need the community’s support,” she says. “It’s easy to get wrapped up in your work, but it’s important for artists to stay in touch with the community or else we would have no audience.”
Students also recognize the role their communities have played in making it possible for each of them to attend GSA. Tuition, room, board and supplies, which totals about $3,800 per person, are completely covered for every student, thanks to state funding led by Governor Beshear and private donations.
“Art is as much about personal expression as it is about giving back to the world,” says Gilbert.
Kaleb King, a visual artist and rising senior at Lafayette High School, agrees: “Art is a kind of community service.
“The Danville community has been so open and welcoming,” he continues. “This is a way for us to pay it forward.”
Many community members were touched by this giving spirit and were grateful to the students for volunteering their time, effort and talents.
“It was such a pleasure to have the GSA students here to sing for our residents,” says Gina Scott, activity coordinator for McDowell Place. “It makes me very proud of our state knowing that we have this many talented individuals and that they would spend their time with our residents.”
by Caitlan Cole