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Mass Cultural Council Investing $1.15M to Spur Creative Learning Statewide

Bethann Steiner, Communications Director

FY20 STARS Residencies Connecting 30,000 Students with Artists in MA Schools

Group of young students smiling and proudly gesturing in front of a mural they helped create.
Swanson Road Intermediate School mural project with Morgan Blair in Auburn, MA.

CONTACT:  Carmen Plazas, 617-858-2738


BOSTON – This fiscal year Mass Cultural Council is investing $1.15 million into classrooms across the Commonwealth with 283 grants to support creative learning through the arts, humanities, and sciences for Massachusetts’ students.

These FY20 STARS Residencies provide awards of $500 to $5,000 to schools to support three-day plus in-school residencies in the arts, sciences, and humanities with a cultural partner. Any school in Massachusetts is eligible to apply.

“Due to the steadfast support of the State Legislature and an increase in the Agency’s operating budget, Mass Cultural Council invested more than $1 million into STARS in FY20,” said Anita Walker, Executive Director, Mass Cultural Council. “As a result, today we are celebrating 283 awards – 39 more than a year ago — serving almost 30,000 students and supporting 174 cultural partners from the Berkshires to Boston.”

STARS Residencies bring students and teachers together with practicing artists, scientists, and scholars to create rich cultural experiences of three days or more. STARS Residencies help youth build confidence, discover hidden talents, explore the natural world, understand their place in history, and rise as leaders in their community. Working together, the parties create rich, meaningful learning projects, such as:

Brockton Elementary Schools and South Shore Conservatory

Five Brockton elementary schools received a combined total of $25,000 to work with the South Shore Conservatory’s ImagineARTS program. Now in its eighth year in the Brockton School District, ImagineARTS helps classroom teachers introduce arts-integrated teaching into their curriculum at the same time it brings arts learning to students. Teaching artists help students bring stories to life through singing, movement, dramatic improvisation, and instrument play. Songs and activities deepen comprehension of story content, introduce thematic vocabulary, and address literacy skills. The ImagineARTS curriculum also builds self-management skills and musicianship. Families are engaged through go-home materials and Family Music Nights.

Worcester:  Columbus Park Preparatory School and Susan J. Fisher

STARS awarded a total of $23,000 to five Worcester schools for creative learning residencies in music, theater, and visual arts. At the Columbus Park Preparatory public school, visual artist Susan J. Fisher will work with all 384 students in grades 1-6 to develop their imaginations and writing skills. Students research and create an animal in clay and write a story from the point of view of the animal. Their work is shared with the school and the larger community at the culminating arts exhibition. Students express their ideas visually through clay and learn to draft and edit their writing, strengthening self-expression, imagination and self-worth. Teachers see how one project can combine visual arts, science, and English language arts to connect learning across the disciplines. The principal and instructional coach support the teachers and students throughout the process by encouraging whole school participation in the project and exhibition.

Holyoke:  Kelly Elementary School and Holyoke Codes

Eight Holyoke schools received a total of $38,500 in STARS funding for residencies in the arts and sciences. At Kelly School, Holyoke Codes educators will work with the 4th and 7th graders on creative computing, working collaboratively with the Makerspace teacher. With a focus on creative expression, students learn about design and how to use art tools to create animations, design games, and code interactive projects. Projects include developing characters, developing narrative and dialog, and making stories interactive. Student work will be collected into a studio accessible online to share with families and the broader community. They will demonstrate their work at the annual Student Showcase.

A complete FY20 funding list and project descriptions for this year’s STARS is available online.

About the Mass Cultural Council
The Mass Cultural Council is a state agency that promotes excellence, inclusion, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and sciences, fosters a rich cultural life for all Massachusetts residents, and contributes to the vitality of our communities and economy. The Council pursues this mission through a wide range of grants, initiatives, and advocacy for artists, communities, organizations, and schools. Learn more about how we harness the power of culture in Massachusetts.

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