CSUN program brings arts productions to children

Jeff Ishuninov

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Valley Performing Arts Center’s (VPAC) Arts Education program offers students the opportunity to see productions they may not otherwise see, and teachers arts workshops with which they can enhance their classroom instruction.

Students and teachers of pre-kindergarten through 12th grade are invited to CSUN to participate in classes, workshops and other activities that introduce or further embrace art.  It gives students an opportunity to see performances by CSUN students and professional actors while teachers attend workshops for professional development.

Sandra Chong, director of the Arts Education Program, said thousands of students attend the events during academic year.

During upcoming months CSUN Theater Department will show “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Don’t U Luv Me?” as part of the Spring 2011 student matinee series, with free admission for K-12 students.

“There are over 200 schools that can participate in the program,” Chong said.  “Sometimes schools can’t afford to rent a bus and come see the performance, so as part of the program, CSUN’s theater actors actually go to those schools and perform there.”

The program allows schools to add art to their curriculum without sacrificing other activities on their budget.

“Arts Education is a non-profit program, and we are able to offer it free for PK-12 schools with the help of generous donations by the United States Department of Education and State Farm Insurance Company,” Chong said.

Amy Labo, who is the lead teacher at Visual & Performing Arts Academy at Sylmar High School, said 10th to 12th grade students now attend events at CSUN on regular basis.

“Our school attended three events last semester and plans to see just as many during spring, so this became part of arts program for students,” Labo said.

Sandra DaLie, an instructional coach at Northridge Academy High School, said her school has been taking mainly 9th and 10th graders to see performances at CSUN.

Most of the students enjoyed what they saw and some actually wrote thank-you notes after attending an event, she said.

“It is a great program, especially for students from a lower socio-economic background. Arts Education gives them an opportunity to attend events they wouldn’t be able to see otherwise,” DaLie said.

Teachers also benefit from this program.  Professional development workshops are set up on the CSUN campus twice a semester.

Arts Education provides extensive information on different types of art, whether it is music, theater or dance. A variety of lesson plans are available, as well as ideas on how to make lessons more interesting for students.