Friday, July 18, 2014

Arts Night done right!

I have tried so many different methods of throwing an Art show.

From hanging artwork for Family Conferences, to teaming up with the Thanksgiving family dinner, to filling the hallways before 8th grade graduation- I really have tried it all. No matter who or what I paired it with, I always got the same results: parents looking briefly at the artwork, if at all, before they moved to the main event of that evening- in these cases it was free dinner, meeting with core content teachers, or watching their child walk across the stage. Though I was always disappointed, I understood why parents weren't too interested in the artwork- it wasn't why they were there! 
The burning question then became how do I make ART the main event? How do I entice students and parents to come to an art show with excitement and enthusiasm? Thanks to the help of my incredible team members, I think we finally got it right.
Last year's Spring MAGn'T Arts Night was probably the most successful event we've ever hosted. It was a culmination of a year's work in Art class, Music class, Technology class, as well as numerous after-school programs such as Nail Art, Photoshop, and Chorus. 
Here's how we did it: 

First, we made everything interactive. Instead of only looking at the finished result, families and staff got to see how students got to that result and give it a try themselves!  Looking at student self-portraits became a game of "Guess Who?," the computer lab became a crash course in photoshop, the hallway became a musical studio, and more. 

Second, we made it appeal to students. Student's love taking selfies, so we added a photo booth! Young ladies are always wanting to stay after-school and get their nails painted, so we included a nail-painting station. We also offered up the opportunity to get community service hours. (In each grade students have a required number of community service hours to complete.) Doesn't teaching parents how you learned to play the piano sound like more fun than cleaning up the park? 

Third, we made it appeal to parents. All parents at our school are required to participate in a minimum of 10 parent involvement hours throughout the school year. Come to our arts night, and you can get two hours knocked off right there! 

Fourth, we did some marketing & advertised! We put posters all over the school and talked it up in classes day in and day out. Student volunteers became our street team and told everyone that they'd better be there! We made connect-ed phone calls to the entire school community with a singing advertisement (done by our awesome music teacher) about why they should come to Arts Night, which was the talk of the school for days! We offered a special deal on admission- $1.00 if you come alone as a student but FREE if you bring a parent! (Charging admission for an Arts Night isn't something we'd normally do, but we tried it as an incentive for students to bring their parents, and it worked!)

Here are some photos from our night!  

A wonderful student volunteer directing parents.
Can you guess who?
The cup game! & some Mandalas.
A parent trying out observational drawing!
Students & staff having their nails done!
A student giving mom a crash course in Photoshop!
Piano station!
Make a mask... 
& have your picture taken!
Bucket drummers! 
Vocal performances! 
As families entered the Arts Night we gave them a checklist to help them navigate the evening & a survey to get some feedback on how the event went. Completion of the survey also guaranteed their 2 hours of parent involvement. They dropped the surveys in a box as they exited. Here is the survey: 

The survey was a huge success! Here are the results: 

Now, how do we top this next year? :)

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