By Museum Educator Danielle Garcia
As a new Museum Educator on the team, it was my first time participating in the Arts4All Festival. I was constantly told that even with all our preparation, nothing could truly prepare me for the Festival until I experienced it for myself. This year the Festival ran from April 30 to May 3, and we worked with nearly 1,000 volunteers to serve approximately 1,400 students and 600 teachers from the greater Jacksonville area.
Once the students arrived at the Museum, they visited different Art Stops throughout the galleries, gardens, and Art Connections, the interactive center. They explored many different art forms, from painting, working with clay, and creating paper collages to dancing, playing with drums, and creating digital masterpieces. “All of the Art Stops made them feel successful,” says Gina M., a teacher at Ridgeview Elementary, commenting on the Festival programming, “My students need many opportunities to interact with others… The Arts4All Festival gave them that opportunity in a highly motivating way.”
With the help of so many wonderful volunteers, we finished the week with flying colors! Jose P., one of the volunteers, reflected on his experience and shared, “I really enjoy seeing the kids so excited and engaged in their art projects. I believe that the experience helps them grow socially, artistically, and personally. I hope to contribute smiles, encouragement, and positivity for the kids and to assist staff in making the Festival successful.”
In the months leading up to the Festival, I went on numerous visits to different schools through the Museum Access for Kids, Florida School for the Deaf and Blind’s Blind Ambition Art Club, and Arts4All outreach programs. To get them excited about their field trip to the Museum, we created nametags with fun, multi-colored yarn and markers. Seeing all of their smiling faces again at the Museum, wearing the nametags we designed together, greeting me with “Hey, I remember you! You visited us!” and giving me big group hugs was worth every effort to put on this amazing experience for them that I know they’ll remember for a long time.