NASAA Notes: May 2020

May 7, 2020

Colorado, Iowa: Student Engagement during COVID-19

In addition to supporting general public participation in the arts during COVID-19 shutdowns, state arts agencies are finding creative ways to address the specific needs of students and children. Colorado and Iowa offer two examples.

Colorado Face Mask Design Challenge

Face mask design by Mack, age 9, from Centennial, Colorado

Face masks, while useful in helping to limit the spread of COVID-19, may be unsettling for some kids, who rely on facial cues to understand their world and draw reassurance from the adults around them. In light of public health guidelines requiring face coverings, many parents are looking for ways to help their children make sense of what they are seeing and minimize anxiety about masks and other health precautions.

Recognizing the power of art and creativity to help children cope with difficult subjects, Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) coordinated the Colorado Face Mask Design Challenge, a fun family project that helps children become more comfortable with personal protective equipment. As it was promoting the program, CCI shared the Centers for Disease Control guidance for educating and reassuring children about the coronavirus.

With this guidance in mind, parents and educators were invited to download a template and engage children in the development of their own mask designs. As they were working on their creations, children were prompted to think about what gives them hope, to imagine themselves as superheroes or to think of silly faces that make them happy. Designs were submitted online to CCI in April and May. CCI is celebrating the creativity of Colorado kids by featuring the resulting designs on social media. Selected designs also will be printed on real face masks produced by Colorado companies. For more information, contact Colorado Creative Industries Program Manager Taylor Tschida.

Iowa Virtual Watch Party

The Film Lounge Student Academy, a program of the Iowa Arts Council in cooperation with Produce Iowa, the state film office, encourages students in grades 7-12 to hone their creativity for the screen. The program encourages youth to pursue the media arts as a vehicle for self expression as well as a potential career path. Students enter the Film Lounge Student Challenge by making their own short films. Entrants are then selected to participate in the Student Film Academy, which includes technology workshops and learning skills from professional filmmakers. The program blends art and technology to provide creative workforce training and preprofessional development experiences for young Iowans.

Ordinarily the students participating in the academy are treated to a live red-carpet screening of their films. In light of COVID-19—and to ensure that students receive their recognition during the school year—the Iowa Arts Council pivoted the event to become a statewide virtual watch party instead. Partnering with Public Broadcasting Service, the arts council broadcast 13 short student films through high-definition livestream that also included community building conversations and social media in a single-screen experience, using the OVEE platform. The watch party included a live Q&A with the student filmmakers. For more information about the Film Lounge Student Academy, contact Iowa Arts Council Grant Services & Artist Programs Manager Veronica O’Hern.