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October 21, 2011 > State of the Arts

State of the Arts

By Margaret Talt, Fremont Cultural Arts Council

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." Pablo Picasso

Schools - much is said about what is bad in our schools and very little is said about what is good. This article will focus on some of the good things happening in Fremont Schools in the area of cultural arts.

Opportunities for exposure to drama, music, dance, and drawing are important additions to academic studies. Such exposure prepares young people to make choices in their adult lives that will lead to satisfying life styles.

Because of the current economic situation, public schools have cut back in some areas, and one such area is the cultural arts. Still, the Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) is managing to offer some classes in art, drama, and music. Assistant District Superintendent Deborah Sims says, "Although there are arts education programs in many of the Fremont schools, the district would like to expand these opportunities to all schools."

While the primary responsibility of the public school system is teaching the basic academic subjects, there is a need to expand children's horizons in ways that may not be available at home, especially with the diverse population in Fremont. Luckily, FUSD can and does draw on support from the community, and various entities here are stepping in to help.

One such group is Music for Minors II (MFMII), which is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization keeping music in children's classrooms and lives since 1988 due to budgetary cutbacks in arts education. MFMII recruits, professionally trains, and supports community volunteers who weekly become music docents that nurture the love and literacy of music in children from pre-school through sixth grade. Volunteers include parents, current and retired teachers, seniors, college students, businessmen and women, and professional musicians who value the need for music for children's healthy development and academic success. MFMII also sponsors community concerts with recording artists who specialize in quality children's music that uplifts, unites, and inspires audiences of all ages. For further information visit www.musicforminors2.org or call (510) 733-1189.

Another group is the Fremont Symphony Orchestra. Co-sponsored by the Symphony Guild, the Fremont Cultural Arts Council, and a number of community organizations and companies, each year the Symphony Orchestra presents a free program of classical music at Ohlone College for students in the Tri-City area. Children have the opportunity to create short musical compositions, and the best ones are chosen by the Symphony, given an orchestral arrangement, and presented as part of the program.

In addition to music, drawing also receives attention. The Fremont Cultural Arts Council has cooperated with the Parent-Teachers Association in recent years to supplement what teachers are able to do. This cooperation has provided outstanding artists to present assembly programs that introduce children to the joy of creating art. To learn more visit FCAC@linkville.com.

Additionally, the Fremont PTA Council sponsors a program called "Reflections," which provides opportunities for students to engage in art and to receive recognition for what they create. This program is designed to enhance and supplement what teachers are able to offer in their classes. For over 40 years this program has given preschool through grade 12 students across the nation the opportunity to create and submit art to local PTAs in six areas: dance choreography, film production, literature, musical composition, photography, and the visual arts. For more information visit www.fremontcouncilpta.org.

The Fremont Education Foundation (FEF) sponsors after-school bands on every elementary school campus in the Fremont Unified School District, directly benefiting about 1,000 students. FEF provides 25 weeks of both beginning and intermediate instruction on woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments for 4th-6th graders, and has been doing so for twelve years. The registration fee is minimal as the After School Band program is funded by donations from present and past band families, and members and businesses in the local community. FEF does not receive funding from the school district, nor from state or federal government sources.

Every year the bands participate in a concert at a local high school, which gives children the opportunity to perform for an audience and to hear other musicians at varying levels of development. In addition, the bands perform at their schools, various community events, the Fremont Senior Center, and march in various local parades, including the Fourth of July parade. To learn more visit www.fremont-education.org.

In this increasingly highly technical world, today's young people need the balance offered by the cultural arts more than ever. Fortunately, Fremont has citizens who recognize and voluntarily work to fill that need.

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