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Artful Bridges

Trout Gallery

Photo by Matt Atwood '15

Student-led arts symposium brings local leaders together to enrich lives of at-risk youth

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Ask Anna Leistikow ’15 why local arts programming is important, and she can easily tick off the reasons and stats. It’s an impressive grasp of the subject for a double major in international studies and German who considers herself new to art. But as as an intern at The Trout Gallery, she’s given it a great deal of thought.

Leistikow recently organized a symposium to help local K-12 educators and arts leaders share resources and brainstorm ways they can collaborate to enrich the lives of at-risk youth through arts programming. Held Jan. 23 in the Weiss Center, the event brought representatives from the Carlisle Area School District (CASD), the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, the Carlisle Arts Learning Center (CALC) and the Carlisle YWCA to campus to meet with representatives from Dickinson’s Trout Gallery, Community Studies Center and departments of art & art history and theatre & dance.

Throughout the evening, participants identified and discussed community needs, how to use art to teach non-art subjects and how to foster a greater sense of community within neighborhoods in Carlisle. They also examined the ways in which students and professors are building arts-fueled bridges between the college and community; a class in Community Engagement and Artistic Citizenship, led by Assistant Professor of Dance Erin Crawley-Woods, for example, created some buzz.

“It worked out really well,” said Leistikow, who joined The Trout Gallery as a foreign-language intern, bringing introductory-level foreign-language students into the gallery to simultaneously practice German-language and arts-conversation skills. “Lots of new connections were made, and many people lingered after the end of the symposium to continue talking and exchanging contact information.” As a result, plans are already underway to provide Trout Gallery support for CALC’s Artworks after-school program for at-risk middle-school students—an outgrowth of a summer program led jointly by CALC, Dickinson, the United Way of Cumberland County and the CASD.

The symposium reflects a larger Trout Gallery mission. Under the direction of Curator of Education Heather Flaherty, Leistikow and fellow gallery interns Christina Errico ’15 (classical studies and archaeology), Taylor Hunkins ’17 (classical studies and art & art history), Suzannah May ’15 (American studies), Giulia Pagano ’17 (undeclared) and Alexia Tobash ’17 (art & art history) help coordinate and provide other educational programs throughout the year, from foreign-language and humanities classes to arts workshops and beyond.

“Partnerships [with educators and community organizations] allow agencies such as CALC to receive much-needed manpower and access to Dickinson resources, while giving Dickinson students the opportunity to gain firsthand experience in civic engagement,” Flaherty said.

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Published February 5, 2015