Youth Benefit from Expanded Access to Afterschool Arts Program

A collaboration between the Milford Fine Arts Council and the Boys & Girls Club of Milford provided regular dance and music instruction for students otherwise unable to afford it.

With help from a Community Foundation grant, the Milford Fine Arts Council (MFAC) has just completed its first after school music and dance program with the Boys & Girls Club of Milford, providing free weekly instruction to elementary school students interested in music or dance who were identified as being unable to afford classes.

For many of the students, it was the first time receiving any type of musical or dance instruction, which was provided by MFAC artists-in-residence. Students prepared for a "Flash Mob" dance and performed as part of Milford's 375th Birthday Celebration earlier this month.

"It was a really great opportunity," said MFAC Board President Dolores Hannon, adding that one student in the program exhibited such talent, that she was asked to audition for a scholarship and is now taking classes with professional dancers from New York City every week.

"By presenting these types of programs, we can see who is really interested and has talent and passion," said Hannon. "And we can take it from there."

But it isn't just about talent, Hannon said. She told the story of another student who was very reserved and quiet at the start of the program. As each week passed, her instructor saw growth in her confidence to participate and her desire to learn more.

Funding for this program was made possible by the Arts Fund, a preference fund at The Community Foundation.

Did You Know?

A 2002 study found that students who participated regularly in arts activities had more confidence in their abilities and were more engaged and focused on schoolwork. The research also found increased attendance among those students and fewer discipline referrals.

Source: Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Social and Academic Development