During May and June 2016, Glen Belcher, Director of the Cumberland County Community Band (CCCB), invited the “ARTS” teachers in the Cumberland County School System (CCSS) to participate in a survey which focused on assessing the current status and needs of the Band, Classroom Music, Chorus, Drama and Visual Art programs in the eleven public schools (9 elementary schools and 2 high schools) in Cumberland County, Tennessee. The responses from those 22 teachers became the basis for a “system-wide” needs list which was then shared with school officials, local civic groups and interested individuals. The responses from the community were overwhelmingly “What can we do?” and “How can we help?”
Realizing that there was a real need for additional funding and support for all of the “ARTS” programs, and that many in the community were willing, even eager, to be a part of an organized effort to provide that support, the Board of Directors of the CCCB unanimously agreed to provide the leadership of such an effort. On August 1, 2016 the STARTS program was officially organized as an initiative of the CCCB (a designated 501c(3) organization). As a result, all donations to the STARTS program are tax deductible.
Ms. Janet Graham, Director of CCSS, was very receptive to the assistance offered by STARTS, and appointed Dr. Rebecca Farley, Curriculum Supervisor for grades 3-8, as the liaison between the CCSS and STARTS. The level of cooperation between Dr. Farley and STARTS has been one of the key factors in the effectiveness of this joint effort to support “ARTS” education in our schools.
A basic tenet of the STARTS philosophy is that we can be most helpful when we listen to teachers who are in the classrooms. Art, Drama and Music teachers are among the most resourceful and creative teachers in public schools and are universally driven by their desire to see their students, individually and collectively, experience “success” in their respective area of the “ARTS”. Once teachers set and prioritized their goals and needs, STARTS would help provide resources and funding needed to implement their programs and achieve their goals.
As guidelines to help us organize support for “ARTS” education, STARTS has set the following goals:
- Raise community awareness of “ARTS” education programs in the Cumberland County Schools
- Highlight the benefits of strong “ARTS” programs in schools for children and the community
- Inform the community of the specific needs of “ARTS” teachers and programs
- Connect potential donors with opportunities to provide money, goods or services that will meet those specified needs
- Encourage partnerships between Cumberland County Schools, local arts organizations and individual artists to create mutually beneficial relationships between artists, teachers and students.
How Funding Benefits the Arts in Our Schools
In September 2016, STARTS was presented with its first opportunity to assist with funding a CCSS program. Terry Ashburn, a retired local band director and Board Chairman for the Bryan Symphony Orchestra (BSO), had secured funds to provide tickets for every 4th grade student in the CCSS to attend a special BSO Educational Concert at Tennessee Tech University. Dr. Farley informed the STARTS director that the grant paid for the tickets but not the bus transportation to the concert. Could STARTS help? With donations from local groups, individuals and the CCCB, STARTS was able to provide the funds needed to transport the 4th graders on 10 buses to the BSO Concert in Cookeville.
Since then STARTS has been able to assist school “ARTS” programs in the CCSS in the many ways, including:
- Money donated to STARTS has been used to provide musical instruments or pay for specific expenses such as production costs for a play. Instruments have been purchased and given to band programs in the CCSS, and donated instruments have been repaired and donated to the band programs.
- Money has been given as a donation to the general fund to provide visual arts supplies and awards for school "ARTS” programs.
- Script and copyright fees were provided for school drama programs.
- When the U.S. Navy Brass Quintet from Washington DC visited Crossville, STARTS arranged for the quintet to perform at the Palace Theatre for 300 5-6-7-8th grade students and paid for bus transportation for the students.
- Items donated to STARTS have been given to schools which needed those specific items.
- Occasionally, STARTS puts a donor in direct contact with the school or teacher and the donation goes directly from the donor to the school and does not go through STARTS
- In several instances, teachers have used STARTS donations as “seed” money, applied for grants or matching funds and “leveraged” the original donation from STARTS into an even larger donation.
How You Can Help
- You can make a donation directly to STARTS by way of a check made out to CCCB with the memo STARTS and mailed to: Cumberland County Community Band, P.O. Box 1624, Crossville, TN 38558
- Attend a school concert, art exhibit or theater production. Make a donation or purchase a ticket, but more importantly show your support by attending and demonstrating to the student artists and performers that you appreciate and support their efforts.
- Speak to others about the value of “ARTS” education in our public schools. Neighbors, community leaders, school administrators, principals, school board members, parents and children all need to hear this discussion framed in positive terms which encourages more community discussion and action.
- Glen Belcher, CCCB Director and Director of STARTS is available and eager to speak about the STARTS program and the benefits of strong “ARTS” programs in public schools for students, families and the community. For additional information about STARTS or to arrange for him to speak to a club, group or organization please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the beginning of the STARTS program, local media has provided outstanding press coverage. The publicity provided and the articles written by “The Crossville Chronicle” staff members have given STARTS name recognition in the community and assisted in establishing contacts and building working relationships between STARTS and those individuals and organizations who want to see a stronger presence of quality “ARTS” programs in our local public schools.
The following organizations have offered continuing support and/or made significant donations to STARTS. ACPL Friends of the Library, Art Guild at Fairfield Glade, Boyds-Best, City of Crossville, Crossville Breakfast Rotary Club, Cumberland Artisans for Creative Expression (CACE), Cumberland County Arts Roundup, Cumberland County Community Band, Cumberland County Community Chorus, DGL Percussion, Fairfield Glade Ladies Club, Fairfield Glade Rotary, Fairfield Glade Rotary Foundation, Fairfield Glade United Methodist Church, Gibson and Winn Productions, Palace Theatre, and the Southern Stars Symphonic Brass Band.
To all of those individuals, groups and organizations who have given so generously to STARTS or directly to school “ARTS” programs, we thank you for your support. Together, through the music, drama and visual arts teachers and programs, we ARE making a difference in the lives of thousands of children in the Cumberland County School System!