Portsmouth, NH

Contact Name
Anna Nuttall
Project Dates
2002 - Present
Workshop Leader
Creative Communities Exchange (CCX) 2011
Workforce Development
According to Dun & Bradstreet, Portsmouth, New Hampshire is home to over 185 arts-related businesses that employ over 935 people. These businesses play an important role in building and sustaining a vibrant economy. They employ people, spend money locally, generate government revenue, and are a cornerstone of tourism and economic development. These businesses represent a wide range of careers that young people may be interested in pursuing locally. In establishing and supporting Art-Speak, the City of Portsmouth recognized the need preserve and nurture the artistic and cultural elements of the city. Part of preserving the artistic and cultural elements of the community involves nurturing and retaining our local talent.
Project Goals
What were the project goals?
ArtWorks seeks to enrich students’ knowledge of careers in the arts by creating partnerships between the school district, locally-run businesses, and locally-based artists contributing to Greater Portsmouth’s creative economy. ArtWorks focuses on Grade 8 (at Portsmouth Middle School), since students at this age are forming ideas and beginning to make decisions about potential future careers. In addition, this exploration may influence their high school course registration (which occurs in Grade 8). Approximately 100 students participated in this program during the 2009-2010 school year. ArtWorks has three major teaching components 1) An in-house curriculum component developed by the art teachers to introduce students to a wide array of professional arts career choices. The goal of this component is to expose students to the great variety of local career opportunities in the arts. 2)In addition to the classroom based teaching, students visit local arts-related businesses and meet the employees/owners to learn about various career opportunities within the Arts. Students tour the facilities to get a hands-on sense of the operations. 3)Once the students are exposed to various career opportunities in the classroom and in the field, individual local artists come into the classroom to work directly with the students. The objective this component is for students to gain “hands-on” experience with the artist to learn about the artists’ techniques, styles, inspirations, etc. The students learn how an individual artist contributes to the larger creative economy by doing such things as purchasing art supplies, using the services of graphic arts company to market their art, showing their work at galleries, and providing curatorial expertise or education outreach for programming. ArtWorks incorporates the theme of sustainability throughout the program. For example, the students learn about businesses and artists using sustainable practices. This includes such things as printing with soy inks and recycled papers for graphics firms, to giving a percentage of profits to local charities, to working in or designing LEED certified buildings, to disposing of waste appropriately. It is anticipated that the ArtWorks program will result in the students developing: •Long-term partnerships with teachers, artists and businesses •Life long investment in the arts •An understanding of economic viability and opportunity in the arts •An exploration of career options •A consideration of the sustainability of arts and culture in greater Portsmouth It is hoped that ArtWorks will serve as a pilot/model program for other school districts and that it become an ongoing sustainable program at Portsmouth Middle School.
Have they changed over time?
The students also worked with artists who use the theme of sustainability in their works (eco-artists). The theme of sustainability was chosen because the Portsmouth Middle School is currently integrating the concept of sustainability into their core curriculum for the 7th grade. Therefore the 2009-2010 eighth grade class spent the last year learning many aspects of sustainability in their community. In addition, Art-Speak would like to promote the concept of sustaining the rich heritage and economic viability of arts in our community by retaining local talent.
Who are the project partners and stakeholders?
All students in Visual arts classes at Portsmouth Middle School for terms 3-6 of the school year participated in ArtWorks. •Student population at Portsmouth Middle School (enrollment 558) viewed all work on display in the school's library and hallways, creating a sense of peer-pride and school-wide interest in the project. •Parents of students in these classes received information and letters home about the project and were also invited to and attended opening receptions for the art exhibits at the library, and the culminating event at the at Infinite Imaging. •The school Superintendent, Principals, School Board members, and other school community members were informed of the project via email/newsletter and then invited to attend all receptions and the culminating event for the project. Principal John Stokel and several School Board Members attended the Culminating event and were very proud of students' achievements. Community-at-large • Residents and non-residents visited the Portsmouth Public Library saw the exhibits and library employees reported continued remarks of enthusiasm and praise for the display. •Residents and non-residents viewed art works in the windows of participating businesses. •Over 50 people attended the culminating event including Portsmouth City Councilors and municipal staff, non-ArtWorks artists, Art-Speak board members, families, volunteers, friends and supporters. Participating “Hands-On” Artist: • Nathan Walker, Illustrator, Sculptor •Tess Feltes, Scientific Illustrator, Curator •Barbara Rita Jenny, Photographer, digital media specialist • Bill Rogers, Videographer, film director, producer •Roger Goldenberg, painter, printmaker Participating “Presentation-based” Artist: •Rob Squier •Terry Weidner •Gina Perry •Kurt Danielson Participating Businesses: •Fa-La-Lo •Re-Enhabit •Gamble Design •Infinite Imaging Participating Organizations: •Portsmouth Public Library •Portsmouth School Department (teachers, staff, administrators) • Art-Speak
Project Specifics
How was the project implemented? What were the steps taken?
The following is a list of tasks required to execute the ArtWorks program. Task 1 Program Planning a. Curriculum Development Portsmouth Schools’ Visual Arts Chair developed ArtWorks curriculum for the eighth grade art students at Portsmouth Middle School (PMS) for the 2009-2010 school year. This was a year-long program, repeating for two trimesters trimester with two new classes per trimester. Two teachers taught the program. b. Identification and Engagement of Local Arts-Related Businesses The teachers and the Art-Speak coordinator, identified and engage local arts-related businesses owners/employees to partner in the program. These professionals served in a volunteer capacity. c. Identification and Engagement of Local Artists The teachers and the Art-Speak Coordinator, identified and engage local artists to partner in the program. All artists had experience working with middle school students and worked in the class room with the students and teachers to develop a final art project. These visiting artists were paid competitive wages for their time. Task 2 Class Work (repeated each trimester) a. Introduction of Program Concepts Teachers began the trimester with an introduction to potential careers in the arts, following the curriculum developed in Task 1.a. Students determined which professions they wish to visit. b. Students Visit with Local Businesses Students visited local business professionals for a tour of their arts-related business. Local business professionals visited class, as appropriate. c. Professional Artist to Work in Class Room Visiting artist worked with students in the classroom to develop a visual piece incorporating the concept of sustainability. The students developed their own project under the direction of the artists and their teacher. The artist spent approximately 10 to 12 contact hours with the students throughout the trimester. Task 3 Final Project The final projects was presented to the public at the end of each trimester. The first exhibit was at the Portsmouth Public Library and the second was at Infinite Imaging, a local graphic design firm. Task 4 Review of Program At end of each trimester, all program partners gave input to determine if any modifications should be made to the program.
Have they been refined over time?
What were your major obstacles?
The major challenge to the ArtWorks program was the scheduling of field trips. While the school is within walking distance of many businesses, we did not have as many field trips as we would like, do to the restraints of the overall school schedule. This challenge would likely vary school-to-school.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
The top three suggestions we would give to other organizations attempting a similar project are: 1) Partnership, partnership, partnership - between school, families, artists, businesses and organizations. All partners need to be on-board early. 2) Allow for sufficient planning time to engage appropriate artists and businesses 3) Aggressively promote the project in the local media so that all partners receive recognition in the community.
Project Impact
How has this project contributed to creative community building?
The ArtWorks program was designed to encourage community involvement and relationship building through the arts and specific, local arts career-related educational programming goals.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
The anticipated community impact was realized in several meaningful and lasting ways. Students learned about a variety of careers in art through hands-on experiences with several artists and art forms, as well as, sustainable practices and content themes in art. Student learned this through teacher-directed instruction, visiting artist projects, local business visitations and partnerships. Students participated in presentation of their work in public venues, and art receptions. ArtWorks connected students with community's local artists and provided a venue for shared experiences in the arts. Through this pilot year's program, just over 100 children participated directly with 5 visiting artists, and 4 additional artists representing a diversity of skill sets, mediums, professions and equally important, life stories of how they 'came to art'. Having artists in the classroom and working directly with students is a very powerful experience and one which is vital to the continued richness of art education in NH. The thriving arts culture on the seacoast will be enhanced with the support our local artists through creating education opportunities, as well as connecting them further to the community through youth experiences, partnering with businesses, and raising awareness of their accomplishments among various constituencies in the community at-large.
Were there unexpected impacts?