Artful Living and Learning, formerly The Artful Living Program, which was created in 2008 by two private citizens who were affiliated with the Massillon Museum. Wilbur Arnold and Christopher Craft wanted to do something to benefit the children in the Massillon community. The first year’s program was the result of a collaboration of services provided to preschool students in the Massillon City School District by the Canton Symphony, The Massillon Museum, The Ananda Center for the Arts, and The Massillon Public Library. From the beginning, Artful Living and Learning has included content lessons created collaboratively by classroom teachers and artists. These lessons are based on the New Ohio Early Learning Standards and Ohio Fine Arts Standards. Support by Education Consultants from the Stark County ESC and local universities have helped to ensure the highest standards in the instruction.
Each year the program has grown. In the 2017-2018 school year, more than 1,300 students in 14 Stark County public schools and affiliated preschools enjoy two to four 20-minute lessons each week for 25 weeks. The lessons are in Visual Art, Music, Drama, Dance, and/or Literacy, and are all taught by degreed artists and art educators, using lesson plans developed by teaching artists and curriculum professionals over the ten-years of the program existence.
The Artful Living and Learning Advisory Board meets monthly during the school year to review the program’s progress, to collaborate to maintain current funding, and to secure future funds to maintain current programs and expand to new ones. The program’s Administrative Team meets weekly to plan, implement, evaluate, and promote the Artful Living and Learning Program.
The program has been supported by numerous foundations (ArtsinStark, the PNC Foundation, The Stark Education Partnership, The Stark Community Foundation, the Paul & Carol David Foundation, the George H, Deuble Foundation, Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, The Aultman Foundation, and more). In-kind support from the Massillon Museum, the SCESC, and the Massillon City School District, have provided facilities and staff to implement and grow the program.
In 2017 – 2018, Artful Living & Learning shifted its base to the Stark County Educational Service Center. The program has continued to expand, adding the Stark County Community Action Agency’s Head Start preschool classrooms in 2019-2020, as well as the preschool classrooms in the Alliance Early Learning Center.
To ensure a presence in the classrooms of the participating districts and program sites during the unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the teaching artists in Artful Living & Learning created 70 twenty-minute videos for preschool teachers to use in their classroom or as part of remote learning lessons for the 2020-2021 school year. The video lessons were archived in May, 2021, in anticipation of the program resuming in October 2021 with teaching artists presenting the lessons in person.