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— Spotlight on the Arts — The Importance of The Arts To Community

Each week I try to write something about someone or how the arts in all its forms are alive and well in Maumelle. The goal is to try to bring together like-minded individuals in an effort to increase awareness of arts activities in Maumelle. But is art really important to community? Would we notice a difference in the community or world if there were no artists? What would life be like with no music lessons, dance lessons, art classes, photography and video classes, theater or any other type of arts? What would we really be missing?

In order to really look at those questions, let’s take a look at how art affects children. Perhaps we should broaden that a little first and talk about children at play. Children do not play for the same reason that adults play. For an adult, it is often to get away from our day-to-day work. We want to do something different. We work so we can have a weekend. Maria Montessori and other researchers in early childhood development have stated that “play is the child’s work”. Play, they say, is the way a child prepares him of herself for the adult world.

The next time your children or other children are “playing” (particularly of a pre-school age), observe them without interfering for a while. Watch how they use their imaginations to create scenarios, generate rules, solve problems and in many ways figure out how to be social and interact with others. This is their work. Often, as a parent or caregiver, we want to jump in and solve a problem or create an adult rule for play. Obviously, if someone is in harm’s way, we may need to intervene. If there is a minor problem, watch how the children solve it on their own. It can be quite fascinating to watch and you might learn that, as a parent, you can intervene less often.

So now let us add artistic endeavors. It is important to allow young children the opportunity to explore freely with art. Like everything, some will be more interested in it than others. Some will want to stay “within the lines” and some will not. Each child develops at a different pace and with different interests. It is important to not compare our children to one another with phrases like “Look how well Susie stays within the lines. Don’t you want to do that, too?” It might be more important for your child to explore all the different colors and shapes their little imagination can create.

While I might take up the whole paper to write about how children learn and how the arts can be important to that process, I will point the reader towards various Internet searches on the subject of children and art or play.

Without the arts, there would be no New Orleans and jazz, no Broadway in New York, no Branson, and for that matter, all of our sporting stadiums would look exactly the same. Arts in all its forms can help bring identity to a community. While Maumelle is not Broadway or New Orleans, we can bring certain parts of that to our cultural experience. We can develop an arts community that may even be part of our image as a potential destination for tourists or families looking for a place to live. I want to hear from you, the citizens of Maumelle, about how you think we can make the arts community a more vibrant important part of our city image. E-mail me with your thoughts and ideas. Be creative. Color outside the lines for a little while!

Mark your Calendars

Feb. 8, 2013 5 — 8 p.m. “Phenomena of Change”

Historic Arkansas

200 East Third Street

Little Rock, AR

www.historicarkansas.org

Maumelle artist, Mary Ann Stafford is one of the featured artists at this event. She takes inspiration from her home state of Arkansas and works primarily in pastels, ink, color pencils and other media that enhances her fundamental method — drawing.

She will also be one of 146 artists at the 5th Annual Delta Visual Arts Show in Newport, Arkansas on Feb. 23, from 10 a.m. — 6 p.m.

Remember to let us know about your event or organization so we can give it a place in a Spotlight on the Arts feature story or calendar. Contact me at maumellearts@gmail.com.

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