June 17, 2021

‘Lymes Creative Arts’ Kicks Off Summer Arts, Music Programs for Students

Teens and preteens here will have a variety of ways to participate in visual arts and m
usic this summer thanks to a new collaborative effort,
Lymes Creative Arts. The initiative presents in one place all available arts and music opportunities in the two towns, including several new programs created based on feedback from a student survey.

The initiative is designed to reduce barriers to participation such as access to program options, time availability, and financial hardship.

Lyme-Old Lyme High Schools Art Department Head Will Allik will lead a Caricature Workshop during this summer’s Lymes Creative Arts programming.

Programming includes an outdoor arts studio, music club, and workshops such as a Caricature Workshop directed by Lyme-Old Lyme High School Art Department Head Will Allik, and a Ukulele Workshop led by Braiden Sunshine.

All programs can be found at https://lysb.org/TeenArts

The initiative is the creation of Sustainable Old Lyme and Sustainable Lyme, and partners with numerous organizations in the two towns including Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, Lymes’ Youth Services Bureau (LYSB), the towns’ public libraries, Music Now Foundation, Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, and Lyme Parks & Recreation.

The initiative began with a survey of 6th to 12th grade students in the two towns to see what arts and music programming students interested them, what programming they currently participate in, and reasons why they may not participate.

Forty percent of respondents replied they did not know how to find arts programming they would be interested in, 33 percent felt they were not talented enough to pursue the creative arts they were interested in, and 15 percent felt their family could not afford outside-of-school arts programming. 

“It was important to us that those students, who may not have the resources to participate, could easily do so without a lot of hoops to jump through,” said Cheryl Poirier, Sustainable Old Lyme’s chairperson.

“There are kids who rely on parents to know their interests and find fun things to do in the summer, and there are other kids, who don’t have that advantage. Our goal has been to make the program accessible to all,” she said.

‘The Voice’ finalist Braiden Sunshine will teach a Ukele Workshop this summer.

With the help of interested students, new summer programming was developed for all levels of ability, affordable options were created, and a communications plan was developed to get information out to students where they can find it, including social media and in-school posters. 

“This has truly been a community collaboration ꟷ from local arts institutions to our Student Advisory Committee, we have tried to craft a program that will have something for everyone,” said Liz Frankel, the Sustainable Lyme Action Lead.

She added, “Having students involved at every step, from developing the needs assessment survey, to including them in our planning meetings, and engaging their input on the initiative name and marketing, has been an invaluable inclusive process,” she said.

The program comes at a time when educators and youth service providers are concerned about the well-being of children and young adults following the increased social isolation during the pandemic.

Grant funding for summer programming to address the issue has become available through the American Rescue Plan. Lymes’ Youth Service  Bureau (LYSB) is the distributor of the local funding. 

This summer more than ever our teens need a creative outlet,” said Mary Seidner, LYSB’s Executive Director.  “LYSB is pleased to help facilitate the funding and scholarships for Lymes Creative Arts to offer creativity and community engagement for our middle and high school students. said Mary Seidner, LYSB’s Executive Director. 

Both Old Lyme and Lyme have town-wide efforts to achieve certification levels with Sustainable CT, a state-wide initiative that highlights municipalities that embrace a variety of sustainable practices, including community engagement with the arts.

One of the “actions” municipalities can embrace toward their certification is Arts Programming for Youth. Sustainable CT also rewards inclusive processes and collaborative efforts between municipalities, such as the one Lyme and Old Lyme have taken with Lymes Creative Arts. 

To learn more about the Lymes Creative Arts programming, visit https://lysb.org/teenarts or email LymesCreativeArts@gmail.com. Additional programming is expected to be added throughout the summer and updates will be posted on the Lymes Creative Arts Facebook page.

To learn more about Sustainable CT go to SustainableCT.org.

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