The display of talent from students of Richmond County Schools at Arts Alive will take on a new, and shorter, look this year
The event is held annually at the Cole Auditorium to showcase student talent in the visual and performing arts, and has featured performances by each school’s chorus or band in the past. This year, however, all-star ensembles will take the stage.
An all-county elementary choir, intermediate chorus and middle school band will be added to the program, but each school won’t have its own performance and parents will need tickets to attend.
School Board member Joe Richardson was the only member to dissent to the changes, arguing that requiring tickets will cut down on the number of parents and community members who attend, while less children will be able to participate.
Mineral Springs Music teacher Lauren Lutz explained some of the new format is a carry-over from last year that proved to be a crowd-pleaser.
“There will be a lot less groups to get on and off stage, so we will shorten our program from what has been about four hours down to about an hour and a half or, in the worst-case scenario, about two hours,” Lutz said.
She explained the concert would begin at 10 a.m. on March 12 with a performance from the Cordova School Choir, before launching into the all-star groups. The performances would be over by noon, but the Cole would stay open for another hour for parents to view student artwork, which will be displayed in the lobby and an additional conference room at the auditorium.
“Our primary objective here is create a new kind of educational experience that our students haven’t been getting,” Lutz told the board. “An all-county, or all-state, format is something that very few of our students get to experience, and it’s something that raises the level of their performances.”
She explained each student who is performing would be allotted three tickets, and have the option to request more. The additional tickets would be given out through a lottery system.
In addition, the concert would be broadcast live in the performers’ waiting rooms, and taped to air on the local public access channel.
Artwork displayed in the lobby and conference room would be displayed in two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms, with an Andy Warhol theme from the students of Hamlet Middle School.
Board member Pam Easterling called the idea “wonderful.”
“I think this is going to help our students learn early on about networking, and meeting with students from other schools,” she said.
Vice Chairman Ed Ormsby said he thought this format would give students a chance to learn more in-depth lessons about visual and performance arts.
“This has great potential in the county,” he said.
Richardson then voiced his opposition to the proposal.
“This severely limits the number of parents who come and see their children perform throughout the day,” he said. “... I know not every child is going to be able to go on to be all-county or all-state, and the original purpose and spirit of Arts Alive really was to get more students and more parents fired up about what’s going on at our schools.”
Richardson said the number of parents and community members who previously showed up to Arts Alive had rivaled athletic events, but also acknowledged there were logistical difficulties involved with getting crowds in and out of the auditorium between performances.
“I think you put some time and effort into this, and I think we should move forward with it,” Chairman Wiley Mabe said.
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 15, or by e-mail at email@example.com.