Seward Artists in the Schools Program a Win-Win for All

Seward Community Foundation is proud to partner with the Seward Arts Council and the Seward PTA to provide an Artist in Residence program for local schools.

The idea began in 2018 when local artist Marissa Beck and Seward teacher Tara Swanson lamented on the lack of a defined arts program within the schools. They wanted to develop a funding opportunity that would pay for local artists to work within the schools with students. As Swanson pointed out, the benefit would be twofold—a spectrum of art specialists would enhance the school’s curriculum, and the program would financially support local artists.

The first year, Swanson used her $225 teacher reimbursement allotment (monies provided to teachers by the school district to procure art supplies) to pay Beck to come into her classroom to teach a few art lessons. The results were rewarding, with her 4th and 5th graders having pieces shown at the SeaLife Center during the 2019 Mermaid Festival.
Buoyed by the initial success in 2020, Swanson partnered with the Seward Art Council, Seward PTA, and Seward Community Foundation to expand the idea into other classes. Jay Leslie helped solidify and build a program that would reach more classes in the Seward area. Seward Community Foundation supported this program with $3500 from the Larsen Family and SCF Funds.

The program immediately gained traction with local artists eager to sign on. Students were exposed to a wide breadth of curricula, including painting, jewelry making, creative writing, leatherworks, and ceramics.
The program gained the attention of Carol Hatch. Impressed by how private citizens could profoundly impact local education and the arts, Carol established an endowment through the SCF, now known as the Ralph And Anne Hatch Family Arts, Music, and Education Fund. This fund not only became a supporter of the Artists in School program but will also support various aspects of the arts in the Seward and Moose Pass area forever.

In 2021 the program’s support was increased to $5100 with grants from the Hatch Fund and the Margret Anderson Fund. This increase expanded services to all area schools, including Moose Pass.
This year the program continues to grow and morph. Though in the planning stages, this year will likely add performance arts into the opportunities for students. We’re excited to see how this program continues to develop and provide unique opportunities for local students and artists.

By Marc Swanson, SCF Advisor