TREMONT — Barn Arts, a local nonprofit dedicated to supporting artists and students, has announced plans for its upcoming season, which will feature teaching artist programs at schools across Mount Desert Island.
The 2022 season will include collaborations with educators and young artists from every school on the island and connect local children with professional artists by centering creativity in the curriculum.
Throughout the fall, Barn Arts Producing Artistic Director Andrew Simon has been discussing programming with colleagues at the Tremont Consolidated School, Trenton Elementary School, Mount Desert Elementary School, Pemetic School, Conners Emerson School, The Community School and the MDI Historical Society to plan directly with local teachers and create initiatives that are custom-built to the students and curricula at each school.
“In many cases, we’re building on the work from last season, where I was able to connect with local educators – either through Zoom or over the phone – to develop an arts education program together that would be the best fit for each group of students. Our 2021 season was a big success and we collaborated with 181 students from six different schools. We’re working towards a similarly active program for 2022,” Simon said.
Despite the challenges of making collaborative art and working in education during a pandemic, Barn Arts has succeeded in these recent accomplishments by focusing energy on a specific set of priorities.
“In the last several years, our organization has created new productions of major musicals, produced world-premieres of shows for young audiences, and hosted hundreds of artists through a free residency program,” said Simon. “Like so many people, the pandemic has given us the opportunity to consider our priorities and focus our efforts on what feels most important right now. And for Barn Arts, that continues to be connecting with the future leaders of our community by making art together.”
Simon founded Barn Arts in 2009 by creating and producing a new children’s show called “It Happened Like This” and staging it at the playground in Town Hill. Since then, the programming has expanded in its scope and ambition, but work with young people has been a consistent part of the organization’s activities – in local classrooms, summer camps, community centers, theaters and libraries.
Simon sees the upcoming season as a continuation of the work that he began over a decade ago, and an opportunity to continue to connect with the youngest members of the community, in a place that has sustained him creatively since his own youth.
“We’re very grateful to be able to do this work on MDI. Even as a child, I knew that this island was an amazing place to discover the world. We’re proud of the work that we’re doing with local educators and students to continue that spirit and legacy of discovery,” he said.