This year the University launched a new outreach program, Arts
Across the Curriculum, which builds upon the success of Hanchers
Stage Door Series and Arts Share program.
"Arts Across the Curriculum was born from our understanding
that Iowas schoolchildren need arts programs with curriculum
tie-ins," says Michelle Coleman, education director at Hancher
Auditorium. "We already had seen our Stage Door and Arts Share
programs reach these kids. But our goal, as artists, educators,
and faculty at the University, is to have as many points of connection
with K-12 students as possible."
Thanks to grants to The University of Iowa Foundation from the
Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust and many other generous donors, 12
schools in six Iowa communities are able to participate in the new
One of the communities is Columbus Junction, a town of 1,600 people
with a large Hispanic population. In this rural town, where the
hog processing plant is a major employer, access to the arts is
severely limited by space, time, and a median household income in
the $25,000 range (less than half the statewide average). So when
Arts Across the Curriculum traveled to Columbus Junction with New
York-based Ethos Percussion Group last spring, it was a rare opportunity.
"Because were a low-income community, there is a real
need for the arts here," says Tony Onesto, an art teacher in
Columbus Junction. "We have a language barrier, but the wonderful
thing is that people speaking any language can succeed equally in
arts and music."
Prior to Ethos visit, University of Iowa dance professor
Armando Duarte visited the towns two schools to demonstrate
the dances of Brazil, focusing on the rhythms of the music and on
the cultural significance of Carnaval.
"I am a native Brazilian, so in my work I am capable of bringing
aspects of my culture to the choreography and teaching," Duarte
says. "I love working with students through Arts Share because
its such a wonderful way to share culture and the arts with
communities around Iowa."
By the time Ethos arrived on April 5, the children were ready to
spend the whole day feeling and learning through rhythm and music.
Fifth-grader Margo Colhurst says it was the most exciting, memorable
day of her school year.
"What seemed really important to me was how Ethos could just
make instruments out of all sorts of things," Colhurst says.
"There were some that were bamboo and there were drums that
had skins with real fur on them. There was an old cowbell that they
took the little ringer out of, and theyd hit it with drumsticks."
On the evening of April 6, students who had worked with Duarte
and Ethos put on a performance for their families. Evening events
often have a low turnout in town, due to communication problems
and the schedules of many parents who must work second and third
shifts. But this time, the auditorium was packed.
"The way Ethos explained everything and showed us how all
the instruments were made and taught us how to use them, that got
us all involved," Colhurst says. "And the noise