2024 Summer Arts Programs for Kids Popular As Never Before |  Clubs & Organizations

From 2014 to 2019, the Marco Island Arts Center offered a limited selection of summer art programs for children for a fee. In 2021, taking a bold step, the Art Center began offering these free Summer Art Programs, breaking down barriers and providing high-quality art education accessible to all aspiring young artists.

For the first year of free Children’s Summer Art Programs, the Art Center’s initiative was met with tremendous enthusiasm. In 2021, nine workshops were offered which quickly filled up with 80 participants aged five to 14, demonstrating the need for accessible arts education among local children.

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Chris Dayett, Marco Island Academy theater instructor, director and playwright working with young puppet making artists in the Marco Center for the Arts Summer Arts Program.

In 2022, thirteen workshops were offered and 116 children were able to participate in the summer program. Demand continued to grow and tireless efforts were made to raise enough funds to continue offering workshops at no cost. The biggest expansion took place in 2023, when 25 classes were offered, including a two-week all-day theater workshop culminating in a spectacular musical production of A Year of Frog and Toad.

This expansion allowed 242 children to participate and introduced a waiting list for the first time, underscoring the growing demand for arts education.

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Chris Dayett at the Summer Storymakers Lab

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Some of the finished pieces from the children’s pottery class.

According to Hyla Crane, Executive Director of the Marco Arts Center, the feedback has been very well received by parents and young artists. She shared some of the comments of one parent with three boys on the program. “It was a tremendous blessing for our family to have these wonderful classes offered free of charge! Whoever sponsored these classes is investing in the next generation and providing an incredible opportunity that we might not be able to afford otherwise! We are so thankful for these high quality art classes for our 3 boys this summer! The classes my boys took over the summer were truly amazing! The boys were just beaming with confidence to show us all that they did with the guidance of great teachers! We are currently working on making a gallery wall at home to showcase all the creativity and hard work from this summer’s classes!”

For 2024, the Art Center has expanded even further, offering 28 art classes along with a two-week theater program, for a total of 29 classes. This comprehensive lineup has attracted an unprecedented response, with most slots filled within just four days of registration opening. The resulting waiting list is the longest the Art Center has ever experienced, highlighting the popularity and great importance of these programs in our community.

The Power of Art. According to a study conducted by Americans for the Arts “arts experiences outside of school are important; the value of art education is not limited to the school experience. Eighty-three percent (83%) agree with the importance of the arts for students outside of the classroom and throughout the community.”

As a testament to the power of art for children, according to the Marco Island Arts Center, “At this time, 293 children and youth have registered for the 2024 Children’s Art Summer Workshops, and there are waiting lists of over twenty children. for some of the workshops. Art is more than a messy activity for children – it’s a way to communicate, meet new friends, build confidence and gain the ability to ‘think outside the proverbial box’”.

However, funding is not always certain, and the ability to provide the scope and breadth of programs and continuation of fee-free programs is not always guaranteed, according to Crane.

Interest in the programs is evident from the long waiting list, and the Art Center will continue to strive to offer the highest quality arts programs possible, according to the Marco Center for the Arts. The success of these free classes is attributed to the continued support of generous donors, including the Florida State Division of Arts and Culture, Collier Community Foundation, Island Country Club Charitable Foundation, Marco Island United Church, such as Sunrise and Noontime Rotaries and some private donors.

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