Cotuit Center for the Arts Art Bus will host the first nature pop-up

COTUIT – A refurbished school bus, painted in bright designs by local artist Jackie Reeves, can often be spotted parked near the entrance to Cotuit Arts Center. In the coming months, families will see this colorful vehicle “appear” in outdoor spaces and schools around Cape Cod in a new initiative to bring art on the road.

The bus is targeted as a way to bring the arts directly to schools rather than taking kids on field trips, to add hands-on creative experiences and — as Denise Steiger, the new youth and family planning administrator of the center, he said – “bringing all the amazing creativity that happens here at the center every day straight to the students.

But the bus will also bring art to the community.

The first public event, coming on Saturday to celebrate Sunday’s first day of spring, quickly attracted enough excitement to sell out a morning session, with a second session on Saturday from 1-3 p.m. at Lowell Park in Cotuit for children of all ages and their families still having some of the 16 available slots left by the Times deadline.

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Center officials predict this will be just the beginning, partnering with parks and conservation lands to combine art and nature, highlight local natural areas and create outdoor classrooms .

What is Saturday’s event about?

On Saturday, the bus will arrive in Lowell Park filled with art supplies and nature-related materials, according to Steiger. The colorful modernized bus – which she described as a “magnificent work of art in itself” by Reeves – has counters, stools and storage space for gear inside, then tables will be set up outside outside to create an outdoor classroom.

Steiger will be joined by people from the event partners Barnstable Land Trust and Getting out of Cape Cod for a walk on nearby Barnstable Land Trust trails. Walkers will then return to the bus to create what Steiger called a hands-on art project related to local flora and fauna, with activities that may include creating a handmade bird’s nest or mask. of painted animal.

Cotuit Center for the Arts has converted a school bus, brightly painted by artist Jackie Reeves, into a rolling arts classroom and will host the first art and nature pop-up event for local families on Saturday. .

The hope, Steiger said, is to host a family-friendly event that “will engage groups of people of all ages enjoying activities together.” This is the first in a series of free seasonal arts and nature themed events that the Cotuit Center plans to continue in the future.

“We’ve been talking about this for so many years that I can’t believe this is actually happening,” the center’s executive director, David Kuehn, said in a recent video bulletin. “We know the importance of arts and culture in society and in our lives. Whenever we reach a child through (various art forms), we know we’ve done our job.

Cotuit Center for the Arts has transformed an old school bus into an arts classroom, complete with tables, stools and Art Bus-like equipment.

Similar art and nature events are scheduled for June 19, September 24 and November 12. The best way to find out what’s going on, according to Steiger: or on Instagram

The combined school and community programs created through the Art Bus “are going to increase the number of young people we can reach exponentially,” Jason Mellin, associate director of programming and production, said in the newsletter. In the spring, “you will see this (bus) everywhere”.

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Steiger, a recent transplant from Cape Florida, first saw the Art Bus last summer when she visited the center at 4404 Route 28 to discuss details of her new position and found Reeves at work covering the vehicle’s yellow exterior with a painted coat of eye-catching designs and images.

Future plans for the Art Bus

The concept of the “travelling classroom” that is at the heart of Steiger’s new position emerged at a time when new ideas were emerging on how arts organizations could share their resources and programs with young people during a period of COVID-19 concerns, when they congregated indoors. in a group was often problematic. Center officials are now working to develop partnerships with local groups that offer more outdoor nature programs.

In addition, Steiger said, officials are working to develop Art Bus programs — free of charge, through private partners and Mass Cultural Council donations – to local elementary schools that receive schoolwide Title I funding, such as Marguerite E. Small Elementary School in West Yarmouth and Hyannis West Elementary School. The bus could offer art programs at a time when access to indoor school spaces is limited.

Some of Jackie Reeves' colorful artwork covering the modernized Traveling Art Bus for the Cotuit Center for the Arts.

Such programs, she said, could complement other school events such as a field day or back-to-school event, provide classroom visits outdoors, or be part of stand-alone events.” of family commitment. The center is seeking additional funding to make these school events available on a regular schedule.

Steiger has also explored partnerships with other local groups, such as the Dot to Dot Art Workshop in Harwich Harbor and Calmer Choice, based in South Yarmouth. These, she said, could be paired with mindfulness events where young children are invited to “create their favorite breaths.” As an example, Steiger puffed out her cheeks, made a fierce face, and blew what she called “dragon’s breath.”

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The Art Bus could be a way, Steiger said, to bring younger audiences to the Cotuit Center and engage more children and families in hands-on activities and programs there and beyond, by particularly focusing on those who do not have the financial means to participate in some of the other activities of the center.

The bus “has been a long-time goal of the center and it’s really exciting to be able to help bring that goal to life and make it something tangible and impressive,” Steiger said in the video.

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Writer Kathi Scrizzi Driscoll contributed to this report.

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