Family Arts Day By Kathryn DeLapp
Family Arts Day: April 28th, 2012
Balloons blowing in the wind and a few well-placed signs were the only hint that it was anything but a typical, quiet Saturday morning in late April at Aaron Davis Hall on the CCNY campus. The lawn was clear, a few students were wandering around beginning their day, and the threat of rain was looming in the early morning. However, if you followed the brightly colored balloon trail you would soon be guided into a vibrant and wonderful space. The moment you opened the lobby doors to Aaron Davis Hall music and laughter would fill your ears. You would see children disguised as jungle animals frolicking around the space and you could even spy a clown or two making balloon animals. The Second Annual Family Arts Day was underway!
The Graduate Program in Educational Theatre at The City College of New York advocates reaching out to communities to create and share theatre opportunities for children. In our case, the surrounding neighborhood is West Harlem. Promoting play and creating dramatic outlets for all children is one of the foundations of the department. It gives our candidates myriad practical opportunities to work in community settings.
Family Arts Day is one of those efforts. This annual event was specifically created to bring together the community through a free day of playmaking, arts and crafts, song, and theatre performances. It is the culminating event in the Family Arts Saturday program overseen and produced by Sobha K. Paredes, a faculty member of the Educational Theatre department. Under Sobha’s great guidance, the day would not have been such a success without the efforts of all of the student volunteers ― the unsung heroes of the day ― who dedicated their time and shared their artistry with the 150 children and adults that participated in the event.
The four-hour event was packed with exciting and engaging activities. This year, we were lucky enough to have Spellbound Theatre perform Wink, a shadow puppet performance. Two celebrity readers from BookPals were on hand to read aloud to the children. An interactive short play, Fable Talk, devised and performed by our very own Graduate Candidates as part of our Readings on the Road series was a big hit. In addition to seeing performances, children and their families were also able to make their own instruments, create characters through mask making, sing along with Graduate volunteers, interact and play with a couple of creative clowns, get their faces painted by Art Department volunteers, and buy tickets for the Raffle which took place at the end of the day!
All in all the day was a huge success and it showed on all of the smiling happy faces of the families that were able to attend. The day was filled with joy and I, for one, can’t wait to participate and play in next year’s Family Arts Day!