Accomplishing a successful Artist Residency would be impossible without the support, encouragement, and participation of the Garden City, Kansas, community. During their busy two weeks, ArtsFI artists are getting the chance to meet and work with everyone from teachers and students to community foundations and local businesses. One teacher actively involved in the residency workshops is Jane Vanderhoff, vocal music instructor for Garden City High School. Jane is overseeing the interactive classes involving choir, orchestra, and theater instruction led by the artists. For high school students who don't get many opportunities to see live art performances, she believes working with ArtsFI is opening students' eyes to the powerful communication between the performer and the artist.
The high schoolers are excited, too. Students have been staying late for extra rehearsals in preparation for a joint performance with ArtsFi this Friday, August 28th. "We're going to pack the house this Friday," Jane said. "This is an eye-opener for the community. It's not just a dream to go on to the professional level as an artist; it's a reality."
ArtsFI member and dancer Cleo Person has experienced incredible support from the area and can already see the impact on individual students. "I witnessed students make gigantic increases in personal confidence, strengthen their belief in their own ideas and opinions, and become more educated, passionate supporters of artistic expression over the course of the four days I had with them," she said. For Cleo, it can be challenging to get high schoolers to open up and share their thoughts and feelings. "It was inspiring to watch students conquer that challenge and set wonderful examples for each other as they bravely stood up to share their own interpretations," she said. The art students embraced the workshops, listening and responding to each other's ideas and experiences.
Outside the high school, many professional organizations contributed to help make ArtsFI's workshops and performances possible. The Western Kansas Community Foundation (WKCF), whose mission is to enhance the quality of life in Western Kansas, awarded grants to ArtsFI for both their 2014 and 2015 Garden City trips. Melissa Gallegos, program officer for WKCF, sees ArtsFI as an exceptional opportunity for Garden City to experience the arts. Melissa is receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from locals. "It's a hands-on approach to encourage students to keep pursuing their dream," she said. "ArtsFI is sending a message that literally anyone, from anywhere, who has passion and drive, can fulfill their heart's desire."