How to find more space for creatives and benefit kids? Put artists in elementary schools

Theatre Heroes Reading

What does it mean to have an artist-in-residence on an elementary-school campus? Picture this: “A visual artist may spend their morning painting in preparation for a gallery exhibition, and then the afternoon with 3rd grade students creating a playground mosaic. Or a 5th grade class may come across a reference to the Harlem Renaissance and then have the opportunity to ask a songwriter in residence about the role of music in society. The possibilities are limitless.”

PHOTO: Theatre Heroes doing a staged reading with 4th graders at Cunningham Elementary School. 

Just announced today, MINDPOP, Austin Independent School District (AISD) and City of Austin Department of Economic Development Cultural Arts Division, have partnered on a new initiative –  Village of the Arts – that provides local artists and arts organizations with studio space at select public schools in exchange for their service to students and families. The program will be officially launched and celebrated on September 6 at 5PM at Cunningham Elementary in conjunction with the school’s Back to School Night. The event is free and open to the public.

In addition to providing much-needed space for local creatives, the Village of the Arts also introduces arts into areas of Austin that present the opportunity for more cultural programming. The program underscores MINDPOP’s commitment to providing students across Austin with access to the transformative power of arts and culture.

Cunningham Principal Heather Petruzzini said, “We are thrilled to begin this partnership with MINDPOP, the City and local artists. We feel that we are perfectly situated to develop a meaningful relationship where our entire community benefits from the value of the arts. Cunningham is a diverse community school and we know that this relationship will lead to greater outcomes for students, staff, and family.”

Comprised of four annex classrooms on Cunningham’s campus, the Village of the Arts hosts five artists in residence who pursue their own artistic endeavors while providing unique arts-learning opportunities for area students and their families. Local arts organizations Bibliographia, Teatro Vivo, Theatre Heroes, Paramount Story Wranglers, and Pollyanna Theatre Company have been selected for the program’s inaugural year.

“The Village of the Arts represents the kind of collaborative innovation that is needed to address Austin’s affordable creative space crisis,” added Meghan Wells, manager of the City of Austin Cultural Arts Division. “We are pleased to partner with MINDPOP and AISD on this program that will certainly enrich the lives of local artists and students alike.”


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