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The opportunities to encourage a child’s artistic and music skills are endless. Given the increased cutbacks in these so-called noncore subjects in school budgets, there is ample room for private gifts to have a major impact. The creative skills developed through active participation in the arts are valuable throughout our lives, including for numerous business and investment pursuits.
- Music and Singing Lessons: Helping a child to learn how to play a musical instrument or to sing is something that can be part of the everyday schedule or can be combined with immersive experiences. For a child who has trouble making friends, group lessons might be just the answer.
- Performing Arts: Nothing prepares kids better for adult leadership roles than learning at a young age how to stand up in front of a group of people and effectively share what they know or enjoy doing. Hire local performers to organize a community theater that showcases children doing stand-up comedy, storytelling, improvisational dance or theater, dramatic readings, skits for local fairs or community benefits, open-mike nights, and other performance art.
I asked one of my favorite artists for ideas on how to integrate support for a child’s artistic skills with involvement in the community. Here were some of the projects she suggested:
- Paint a Concession Stand: Invest in hiring an artist (or find a willing teenager) to acquire a commission for a group of children to paint a concession stand at a swimming pool or zoo. The kids can show the concession owner a few sketches of appropriate images—ice cream cones, hamburgers, whatever the concessionaire is selling—to help increase the stand’s business. Once they are approved, the artist can guide the children in working together to complete the project.
- Paint or Tile Murals: Hire an artist to lead a group of children in painting a mural for a school corridor, a home hallway, the building facade of a local business, the wall of child’s room, or a church wall. The artist can draw the mural and mentor the children in painting it. With help, children may design and produce a tile or mosaic wall in a zoo or park. The gift-giver can purchase tiles and grout and hire a ceramist who can teach kids to glaze and fire the tiles and apply the mosaics. The community will then have a permanent art show. Throw a party in the park to celebrate, or unveil the finished work on Earth Day.
- Paint Furniture: Find furniture at a rummage or garage sale and hire an artist to (or have a talented teenager) provide an outline for children to color in the patterns with paint. Buy secondhand wood-and-cloth chairs or lounge chairs that an upholsterer can reupholster with cotton duck, creating a paintable canvas. Pillows covered with white cotton can be painted upon as well. The finished items can be given to less fortunate families, used in the child’s home, raffled off at a charitable fundraiser, or even sold at a profit, either to an existing business or directly to end users.
- Art Contest at a Pet Store: Invite kids to come in, sit on the floor, and draw or paint the pets. The pet store can then make a window display of the art and award a prize, perhaps a pet bird or rabbit, if the family is able to take on the responsibility. This will draw more customers to a local pet store’s business.
- Art on the Farm: Hire an artist to teach children to draw and paint the farm animals that the children are raising. Hold a special event to show the finished artworks (with or without the animals) or combine it with another event, such as a rodeo or a sheep and wool festival, where the children will be showing their animals.
- Art Activities at Hospitals: Give a few talented older children art supplies in exchange for their commitment to provide birthday parties for patients at a children’s hospital at which friends and other patients can engage in artistic activities.
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