Park University Receives "Art Works" Grant From Fhe National Endowment for the Arts

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Park University has received a $7,500 National Endowment for the Arts "Art Works" grant to partially fund the University's "Poetry @ Park" initiative that was developed in 2010 as a part of the University's Missouri Arts Council grant-supported Ethnic Voices Poetry Series by Virginia Brackett, Ph.D., assistant dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, associate professor of English and director of the Degree with Honors program.

Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence and public engagement with diverse and exceptional art, lifelong learning in the arts and the strengthening of communities through the arts. During the 2013-14 academic year, Park University's Art Works grant will support writing workshops, performances at magnet high schools in the Kansas City, Mo., area, and a public reading by The Symphony, a group of four African-American and Latino poets who have appeared as a part of Park's Ethnic Voices Poetry Seriesin recent years.

"It speaks volumes about the importance of the University's willingness to continue to support the arts," Brackett said of the grant, which will be matched by the University. "The NEA funders found the collaboration aspect of the project quite attractive. When I spoke with a representative after funding was announced, she told me the funding represented a stamp of approval from one of the most prestigious organizations supporting the arts today."

According to Brackett, the funding supports collaboration with the Kansas City, Mo., School District, Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools, Prep-KC (Kansas City's Partnership for Regional Educational Preparation) and the American Jazz Museum, allowing students to work both online and at the University's Parkville Campus with the poetry group.

Earlier this year, as part of a creative writing workshop, students from Grandview (Mo.) High School, J.C. Harmon High School in Kansas City, Kan., and Paseo Academy in Kansas City, Mo., received copies of a poetry anthology selected by The Symphony. Guided by their creative writing teachers, the students discussed the anthology selections through an online discussion with members of The Symphony. During the workshop, The Symphony members helped students create poetry and evaluated poems submitted for inclusion in an electronic journal that was compiled and edited by Park staff and posted on each school's respective website. Selected students then had the opportunity to represent their respective school during a "poetry jam" event. Those events, as well as the purchase of the poetry anthology, were made possible through grants the University received from the NEA, Mid-America Arts Alliance and the Francis Family Foundation to support activities for Kansas City area high school students that celebrate the power of poetry.

For more information about the grant, contact Brackett at virginia.brackett@park.edu or (816) 584-6818.