NEA grant supports local Artspeak program

June 05, 2001 12:00 am
Debbie Friedman (foreground) teaches Artspeak classes through Crossroads Arts Center and Baker public schools. Artspeak started as a dance class for juvenile offenders and has expanded to include other art forms and other youth. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).
Debbie Friedman (foreground) teaches Artspeak classes through Crossroads Arts Center and Baker public schools. Artspeak started as a dance class for juvenile offenders and has expanded to include other art forms and other youth. (Baker City Herald photograph by S. John Collins).

Crossroads Center for the Creative and Performing Arts here has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support a partnership to continue the Centers Artspeak project with the Baker School District 5J.

The partnership includes the District, the Commission on Children and Families, Mountain Valley Mental Health, New Directions Northwest, and the American Association of University Women, all agencies and organizations with an interest in young people.

Debbie Friedman of Crossroads and Lori Daniels of the District will be the coordinators of the project which will begin Sept. 1 in the schools.

The Artspeak Project began as a dance class for juvenile offenders. The program now offers instruction in the visual arts, dance, poetry and theater and, with this grant, will expand its after-school and summer programming.

Classes are conducted for pre-kindergarten to 12th-graders.

This is a major, major partnership, said Ann Mehaffy the Crossroads administrator. She said the community supports the project which allows children to receive a wide variety of art classes which would not be possible without the partnership and financial support.

The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded $1.7 million this month to support partnerships serving young people. The Crossroads grant was one of only 196 awards made in the United States to provide artist residencies in schools, civic or community organizations that offer young people safe environments in which to explore their expressive capacities.

The program, called Challenge America, uses the unique power of the arts to strengthen Americas communities. Congress has appropriated $7 million in Fiscal Year 2001 for the program.