“Our mission is to provide residents, visitors, and artists with premier events, education, and creative opportunities in the arts.”
Who They Are and What They Do
True to their mission, the Arts Council of Big Sky (ACBS) promotes art education and experiences in astoundingly diverse ways. Like the art and the music to which they draw the attention of the community, the staff at ACBS are creative, fun, and intent on connecting with the world. Over the years, they have established a few staples of the ACBS calendar including Music in the Mountains – a summertime event where every Thursday they host a free concert at Town Center Park. They also orchestrate the Classical Music Festival – a weekend in August that celebrates an array of classical music and artists. During the fall, they arrange Telluride’s Mountainfilm Festival on Tour which brings the community together for a weekend of viewing inspiring films.
Besides these high-profile, large audience events, ACBS also organizes a variety of other smaller programs. These include public art projects, such as the installation of Jim Dolan’s elk sculpture at the Uplands and Hummocks Trailhead, and youth education programs. This past year, the Bozeman Area Community Foundation had the privilege of being a part of these programs by helping fund the Big Sky Youth Arts Education Partnership.
Youth Arts Education Partnerships and BACF
ARTventure is one of several art education programs the ACBS has created that seek to expose Big Sky youth to art professions, opportunities, and crafts. Throughout the school year, the ACBS organizes both day and overnight trips for students so that they can witness firsthand the dynamic, innovative, and fascinating world of art. They even plan a trip to Seattle so that those in the “Big Sky bubble” can leave a world that is familiar to travel and experience artistically renowned sites. The programs manager, Katie Alvin, explains that the purpose of ARTventure is to show kids that art can be professional and intellectual, beyond a hobby or a pretty picture.
Over the years, Katie has noticed a distinct decline in the number of kids who raise their hands when asked if they are considering a career in art. She hopes that through the exposure provided by ARTventure, more kids will at least better understand the variety that is inherent in the art world and the career opportunities related to art that go beyond being an artist.
In fact, the ACBS makes a point to start young when it comes to art education. During the summer when Music in the Mountains is happening on Thursdays, they set up a tent at the park for young children and toddlers. Inside the tent are a variety of artistic tools, from blocks and puzzles to paper and paints. With these tools in hand, children embark on an artventure, free to create all on their own, unhindered by parents’ prying hands or instruction.
Beyond ARTventure, the ACBS hosts other art education programs such as Discover Dance, which brings Montana Ballet Company to Big Sky to demonstrate to youth how a ballet company operates, complete with a behind the scenes look at a show! There is also an educational component to the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival, which provides opportunities for kids to view inspiring documentaries on important social or environmental topics and later incorporate those concepts into questions, lessons, and curricula. The ACBS also integrates youth education during the Classical Music Festival through Master Classes, during which music students learn from top musicians in a small group setting.
With so much going on, the ACBS relies on the help of partners and sponsors to have such an incredible impact. Last year, it was the privilege of the Bozeman Area Community Foundation to contribute to the valuable work the ACBS is doing by providing funding for the Youth Art Education Partnership programs. Connecting youth to the broader world, to passionate people doing work that inspires and moves, is one of the best parts of being a community foundation.
If you are interested in any of the programs and events put on by the ACBS or would like to get involved, check out their website at www.bigskyarts.org!