Spoken word, dance and music performances, pop-up art exhibitions, hands-on activities and more: The Scottsdale Arts’ Education & Outreach’s Arts Education Showcase returns for its eighth year on May 2 at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.
The theme of this year’s showcase is “Work of HeArt,” echoing SAEO’s mission of building a strong, vibrant community through the arts.
Throughout the evening, attendees can peruse artwork created by about 75 youth artists. Approximately 130 students will perform, and 70 adult and senior visual community art program participants will be in attendance.
The free showcase aims to celebrate the accomplishments of people of all ages who have taken part in SAEO’s diverse school and community programs—from photographic and written works by youth from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, to displays from partnerships with City of Scottsdale senior centers.
Through its matinee performances, guided museum tours, hands-on workshops, artist residencies and creative aging programs, such as Memory Lounge, SAEO serves more than 40,000 youth and adults annually.
“This year, Scottsdale Arts Education & Outreach collaborated with partners across the Valley to touch more lives than ever before,” said Chris Harthun, arts education coordinator for Scottsdale Arts.
“While the individuals that we work with are diverse, the arts reach and connect us at the core of our humanity,” he added. “Art is a universal language that transcends boundaries, heals and gives hope.”
Also on display are handcrafted bowls created by local community artisans and youth from the Alli Ortega Empty Bowls Benefit Sale.
In partnership with Scottsdale Partners Cares, Vista del Camino Food Bank, Scottsdale Community College, City of Scottsdale agencies and Scottsdale Unified School District, the benefit sale was held in November of 2018 to raise funds to fight hunger in the community. All the proceeds were then donated to Vista del Camino Social Services.
Hands-on activities at the showcase include designing felt monsters at Marble Mountain, an activity created by Phoenix-based artist Kayla Newnam and was previously featured at this year’s Scottsdale Arts Festival.
In addition to performances by student musicians, singers and dancers, the showcase will feature a wood-burning demonstration.
SAEO’s programming caters to people of all abilities. Marvel & Make is an interactive program designed for groups of adults with cognitive or developmental disabilities to create their own artwork.
SAEO Director Natalie Marsh said the education team at Scottsdale Arts engages people of all ages and abilities to ensure everyone has access to public, performing and visual arts.
“The arts are a crucial part of what makes our community vibrant, thriving and healthy,” Marsh said. “They contribute to our creative economy, build empathy by bringing people together and make our community a beautiful place to live, work and visit.”
Upon stepping into his role as Scottsdale Arts CEO last year, Gerd Wuestemann created a full fourth branch, Education & Outreach, under the Scottsdale Arts umbrella.
For Wuestemann, arts education transformed his life.
“I have a very firsthand experience with this transformative power of the arts in education,” he said.
Growing up in a small town in Germany within a working-class family, Wuestemann began playing the guitar at 5 years old. At 11, he won a competition playing classical guitar, and by age 12, he was playing professionally.
“It opened every door conceivable for me,” he said. “It created this enormous avenue for me to achieve, but it also opened my mind to achieving academically. It helped me become self-reliant and work with others and I became a better student.”
Creating this fourth branch was Wuestemann’s way of informing the community of Scottsdale Arts’ ongoing work in arts education.
“I wanted to make this a branch because we’ve already done good work in arts education over the years, but we’ve never really labeled it very clearly,” he said, adding:
“So, on a purely pragmatic level, that means that our community doesn’t know all the things we do in education, which is unfortunate because it means there are fewer people participating and it means it’s harder for us to make some noise around it and drum up some support for it.”
Wuestemann’s long-term goal with Education & Outreach is to not only engage people of all ages in the arts through its programs, but also have a “deeper, more lasting impact on the people [they] serve.”
“We do creative aging classes, we do research, work with Banner Health about impact of creativity and on healthy aging; those are important things and I think we can be playing a role in that,” he said.
The “Work of HeArt” showcase is free to attend and open to the public, but attendees are encouraged to RSVP online.