Get to know Artes Para Todos
Creative Cauldron’s ArtsFairfax Project Support Grant Recipient
ArtsFairfax connects you to all things arts in Fairfax County, the City of Fairfax, and the City of Falls Church. We believe that arts and culture in our communities are transformative and empowering. In the months ahead, discover the good work of this year’s Project Support Grant recipients.
We spoke with Laura Connors Hull, Artistic Director of Creative Cauldron, to learn more about Artes Para Todos, a project that provides year-round, after-school drama workshops and arts opportunities for young people attending Fairfax County Title I schools.
ArtsFairfax: The “Artes Para Todos” project is part of Creative Cauldron’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion goals to reach a wider, more diverse sector of its community. Tell us more about how the program was realized.
Hull: We want to break down barriers to participate in and enjoy the performing arts so we created Artes Para Todos to bring Creative Cauldron arts education programs to English learners and young people from homes where Spanish is the first language spoken.
We partner with Second Story, a local nonprofit serving at-risk youth in Northern Virginia, and Westlawn Elementary, a Fairfax County Title I school with a majority Latin/Hispanic population and families who qualify for the free and reduced lunch. Students from these institutions participate in after-school drama workshops and can enroll in our Arts Adventure Camps over spring and summer breaks. We also invite families of those participants to attend culminating workshop performances presented by the students.
At Westlawn Elementary specifically, a full bilingual production will be the culmination of a year-long program. This production will be made available for a school assembly and/or an evening performance that can be attended by the entire Westlawn family community. Participants will also be able to attend, at no cost, a bilingual touring performance of “Tales from the Andes,” a dramatization of folktales from Peru and Bolivia that features large-scale puppetry and the music of Juan Cayrampoma, a local Andean musician who plays traditional instruments. Additionally, students will also attend performances of three family-friendly Creative Cauldron performances: “The Princess and the Goblin,” “The Christmas Angel,” and “The Snow Queen.”
ArtsFairfax: Amazing! How does Artes Para Todos support Creative Cauldron’s overall mission?
Hull: Creative Cauldron was founded with a mission to make access to quality arts programs accessible and affordable in the community that we serve. Last year, we formed our Justice, Equity, Diversion and Inclusion goals and used those as a framework to examine the reach of our programs in the community we serve.
Creative Cauldron is located in the City of Falls Church, which is a largely white, affluent community, but we are surrounded by Fairfax County neighborhoods and schools where most students are from lower-income families and/or from Spanish-speaking households where English is a second language.
Once we realized the many barriers that keep a wide swath of our community from participating in and enjoying our programs, we created Artes Para Todos. We also hired Lenny Mendez, a local actor and teaching artist with deep roots in the greater Falls Church community, as our new bilingual Artistic Associate to lead the project and help us better serve this community by building trust and communication with families and our nonprofit partners.
ArtsFairfax: What do you appreciate about the community you serve?
We live in a vibrant and diverse community that allows us to experience many cultures and traditions, and I can see that there is a desire for a program like ours in the community.
ArtsFairfax: How can Fairfax residents get involved or learn more?
We appreciate the support that we have received from so many Creative Cauldron donors who help make this work possible, so the more donations we have the more we can expand this program! Creative Cauldron has five Title I schools within 10 minutes of our facility; we’d love to be able reach even more families over the next few years.
For individuals who speak Spanish, we have many volunteer opportunities as ushers and front of house managers to help us welcome families and students on visits to our theater. We would also like to encourage people to support Second Story.
Creative Cauldron is an award-winning non-profit theater and educational arts organization whose innovative programs in the performing and visual arts embody collaboration, experimentation and community engagement. Learn more Creative Cauldron by visiting www.creativecauldron.org.