Find Fun and Fundamentals at Arty Party

When Arts Partners asked if I’d like to attend Arty Party with my girls, write about my experience, and also give away some tickets on my Facebook page, I was intrigued. I’d heard of Arts Partners, thanks to a wildly successful social media fundraising campaign, ArtDOG (Art Day of Giving) earlier this year. The campaign, a project of the Wichita Community Foundation and The Arts Council, brought funds and awareness to the many arts organizations serving our area. Obviously, it worked. Arts Partners was on my radar, at least. Here’s a little more about what they do:

…a comprehensive educational program that integrates visual and performing arts into all areas of the curriculum through the planned use of community cultural resources. Arts Partners inspires creativity and learning by using the arts to enhance the classroom experience for Pre K-12 students in collaboration with teaching artists and community cultural organizations. Working in more than 100 schools in the Wichita area, Arts Partners’ teaching artists help students from early childhood through high school learn math, science, engineering, technology, language arts, and social studies by using arts strategies. 

To find out about all they do, go here. Now, back to the Arty Party? What exactly is that? As it turns out, this was their third-annual event. It’s both a fundraising event, and a way to publicly showcase their many resources and offerings to the public.Artists, musicians, storytellers, dancers, a cartoonist and even a magician were on hand to entertain and educate. Parents are encouraged to attend with children ages 4-10. Tickets were $15 each, and the special Dr. Seuss breakfast beforehand was an additional $10. This year’s event was held Saturday, Oct. 18, and I imagine it will be held around the same time next year.

I asked my girls if this is something they’d like to do. “Yayyy! It’s a party with art!” Well, that about sums it up. Kids don’t need any highfalutin explanation. :-) Both of my girls LOVE to color and create, so I knew this would be right up their alley. While getting dressed that morning, both girls insisted on dressing up “special.” It was a party after all.

All dolled up for the Arty Party!

All dolled up for the Arty Party!

We arrived at the USD #259 Joyce Foucht Instructional Center and were immediately greeted by a magic show. We were off to a good start already. We then headed upstairs where an impressive breakfast buffet sat at the end of a long room decked out in Dr. Seuss EVERYTHING. Even the tables had really neat centerpieces and intricately hand-drawn illustrations which the children were encouraged to color with markers. The girls could have sat and colored on tables all day if I let them, but there was much more to enjoy.

Good, glorious food! The additional $10 is well worth it, especially if you have some Dr. Seuss fanatics on your hands.

Good, glorious food! The additional $10 is well worth it, especially if you have some Dr. Seuss fanatics on your hands.

The drawings on the table had to have taken someone (or many someones) HOURS to complete. Very cool. My girls loved coloring them in.

The drawings on the table had to have taken someone (or many someones) HOURS to complete. Very cool. My girls loved coloring them in.

Not only was there Dr. Seuss decor everywhere. There was even a short musical performed by some talented young actors from Music Theater for Young People. I was surprised when my daughter agreed to a photo op with this character. He was surprised, and very gracious, when she didn’t recognize who he was supposed to be.

“I’m Horton, the elephant. You know, from Horton Hears a Who?”

She studied him, and then made a very good point. “You don’t have a trunk.” (And in her defense, I thought he was supposed to be a mouse until he held up the book.) :-) Nevertheless, he and the “Cat in the Hat” sang a few tunes and enjoyed entertaining the crowd. Wichita City Fire Chief Ron Blackwell even joined in on the fun, and took some time to read a little Dr. Seuss to the young crowd.

My daughter made a very good point when she didn't recognize this young gentleman as Horton. Where was his trunk? ;-)

My daughter made a very good point when she didn’t recognize this young gentleman as Horton. Where was his trunk? ;-)

Wichita City Fire Chief Ron Blackwell reads to Arty Party attendees

Wichita City Fire Chief Ron Blackwell reads to Arty Party attendees

After breakfast, we headed into the next room for the Arty Party itself. My girls immediately wanted to check out each station, and had a hard time choosing where to begin. We settled in a tambourine-making table, where a lovely woman instructed the girls how to weave yarn though cut holes in a paper plate, insert beans, and shake to the rhythm.

Applying her Arty Party sticker to her tambourine.

Applying her Arty Party sticker to her tambourine.

After making tambourines, children were encouraged to put them to use while the beat played.

After making tambourines, children were encouraged to put them to use while the beat played.

I have to say, the best part about the whole event was watching my girls engage in what was interesting to them. I quickly discovered that my oldest is all about drawing, while my youngest likes to get her hands dirty. My 5-year-old sat for at least half an hour in a cartooning lesson taught by the famous editorial cartoonist Richard Crowson. She had no idea he’s kind of a big deal, just knew that he was unlocking the door to a world she so desperately wanted to enter. How to draw what you see. This was a major moment for her. More on that later.

This kid was FOCUSED during her drawing lesson.

This kid was FOCUSED during her drawing lesson.

Big props to Mr. Crowson for keeping the lesson simple enough for kids to understand, and yet explanatory enough that they felt they actually learned something.

Big props to Mr. Crowson for keeping the lesson simple enough for kids to understand, and yet explanatory enough that they felt they actually learned something.

This was my youngest's favorite activity- some sort of wool art thing. She loved anything hands on.

This was my youngest’s favorite activity- some sort of wool art thing. She loved anything hands on.

Overall, the Arty Party was very fun, and helped teach my girls some of the fundamentals of various types of art. They had a great time, and we’re looking forward to returning next year. You should join us!

After three hours of partying hard, these girls were tired, but so happy with all they'd experienced at the Arty Party.

After three hours of partying hard, these girls were tired, but so happy with all they’d experienced at the Arty Party.

Something cool:

Yesterday, my oldest grabbed some paper and crayons like she always does, but did something else for the first time. She grabbed an object to draw, rather than using just her imagination to create whatever scene she wanted. When I glanced down at her paper, I was shocked. Her drawing skills had dramatically improved, and she informed me she was “modeling” her drawing after her beloved Jessie doll. This was a term I’d never heard her use before, and her confidence grew even more after she realized she could, in fact, draw what she sees. I have to think the Arty Party had a hand in this. :-)

This was a major breakthrough for my budding young artist.

This was a major breakthrough for my budding young artist.

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