PEPPERELL -- Although the North Middlesex School District was able to save their arts department with the passed override on Aug. 28, several parents in the district felt it was too close of a call. If the vote had failed, the extra-curriculars in music, arts and theater would have been on the chopping block. After forming a rally during the vote and receiving substantial support from members of the district, a group of parents from Pepperell, Ashby and Townsend decided to formally organize in an effort to support all factions of the arts, from visual art to the high school band and chorus to art in digital media, to ensure the longevity of the arts department.
Thus, the Arts Council was born.
"The parents decided that in order to strengthen the arts and keep this from happening in the future, what we needed to do was create a group that would spread awareness in these three towns of all the amazing things that are going on in the schools and also in the towns," said Nancy French, council member.
The mission is simple, according to French.
"Our purpose is to encourage arts awareness and appreciation within all sectors of the community, from toddlers to seniors."
The group had its first meeting in September. Within its first two gatherings, the group has already gleaned 15 members, a mix of parents and teachers, and is still growing. It is open to anyone in the three towns, ranging from parents and educators to local artists.
"We would love to see members from all areas of the arts including visual art, computers and technology, the library and music," said French.
Thus far, the group has brainstormed several ideas to increase community activity in artistic extra-curriculars. Currently they are focusing on creating a card for seniors to be able to get into any school play or concert free of charge.
"Hopefully that will promote bigger audiences and get seniors involved," said French.
They also hope to create a community calendar with upcoming events in the arts to increase awareness that the events are actually taking place.
"If you don't have kids in the school, then you don't always know what's going on," said French. "If people know about these things they might be more likely to get involved."
The council is also planning to launch a website to feature not only events but artists and their accomplishments: For example, the North Middlesex High School Band recently won a New England Scholastic Band Association competition in Lawrence. It is this kind of success that the committee hopes to promote in order to demonstrate the value of the arts in the school district.
"I think it is important for people to be involved in the community and in the schools. It seems that mostly parents attend the school events, but this could be a great resource for the community and in turn the community could help the schools with their support," said French.
Community members interested in joining the Arts Council can email the group at: firstname.lastname@example.org.