Edwardsville Arts Center to remain at high school

News-DemocratJune 7, 2014 

— The Edwardsville Arts Center will continue to live at the high school for another decade, at least, under a new agreement with District 7.

The arts center relocated from its own facility into space at Edwardsville High School three years ago. In return for housing, the arts center works with the arts classes at all public schools in the district and contributes to programming during the school year and the summer camp program.

The District 7 school board recently voted to extend its agreement with the arts center for 10 years, with automatic renewal unless either party wishes to terminate it.

"We just love this partnership ... The school has been extraordinarily supportive," said Jacquelyn Dezort, chairwoman of the arts center board. "We love how the students interact with us, and it enables us to bring significant art into the community."

In addition to the rotating exhibits of various artists, the center has partnered with the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Museum to showcase artwork and artificats from the university collection. Recent exhibitions have included ancient and modern art from Asia and Africa, among many others.

The Edwardsville Arts Center has a student gallery featuring student art exhibits as well, and offers classes for adults as well as children.

Edwardsville Superintendent Ed Hightower described it as a "very positive relationship."

"The arts center board has done an extraordinary job of integrating into the various arts throughout the district," Hightower said. "They've given the art program an injection of enthusiasm that we're seeing with the kids and with faculty members ... It's a value that you can't place a price tag on."

Up next for the Edwardsville Arts Center: the District 7 summer camp program, with more than 90 young people participating in summer art programs. The center also will work with area festivals and parades: one area they still need to work on is visibility, Dezort said.

"We've been there three years and people who go by it every day say, 'Oh, I didn't know you were here!' It's amazing how excited they are when they find us," Dezort said.

Also coming up: the Edwardsville Arts Fair, a juried art show and sale that will have its inaugural season in October, according to Dezort. A new slate of classes ranging from drawing to jewelry-making will go up on their web site soon, according to organizers.

"They've added a value to the community and one we're very proud to be part of," Hightower said.

The Edwardsville Arts Center is located at Edwardsville High School with a separate entrance on the Center Grove side of the campus. It is open to the public 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit its web site at edwardsvilleartscenter.com.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 618-239-2507.

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