Children who partake in the arts experience many benefits. Not only does this participation instill confidence, but being involved in the arts also improves a child’s cognitive learning, decision-making, math and motor skills and offers outlets for positive self-expression.

Photography courtesy of Janet Warlick

 

With public school budget cuts, unfortunately, arts programs often are the first to be downsized. The Timmons Arts Foundation in Maumelle, Ark., is working hard to keep the arts alive in Arkansas’ public schools.

“Keeping arts education prevalent in the lives of our children is our key mission at the foundation,” said Theresa Timmons-Shamberger, founder and administrator of the Timmons Arts Foundation. “With that, it’s important to assist schools with their efforts, especially our schools that are at risk or that have lost funding for their arts programs due to budget cuts.”

The foundation is based on family, Timmons-Shamberger said, and her family includes artists and musicians.
“Music was a part of our everyday lives, and having the opportunity to attend art and music classes in school, in addition to the standard curriculum, proved valuable,” she said.

With their strong beliefs in music and the arts, Timmons-Shamberger said she and other foundation board members are dedicated to promoting and highlighting the importance of the arts. They have an ongoing mission to craft an environment that promotes and provides access to the arts.

Because some children go through their childhood without having the opportunity to paint, dance, act or play music, the foundation’s Youth Summer Camp provides those opportunities to children, ages 7 to 12, at no cost. This year’s camp will be held July 5 through Aug. 5 on the Arkansas Baptist College campus in Little Rock. The camp will include six components of art: visual, instrumental, vocal, dance, fashion, and health and fitness. Eighty-five students will be instructed by trained professionals and will share what they’ve learned during the final week of the camp.

This summer will be the third year that Vicki Hatter’s 11-year-old daughter, Zasha, has attended the summer camp.

Zasha and her mother, Vicki Hatter.

Zasha and her mother, Vicki Hatter.

“Fashion design is her focus,” Hatter said. “This camp has exposed her to more facets of the fashion world and the different components of fashion design.”

Hatter said students at this camp gain an edge over experiences at other camps because of the skill and knowledge shared by the professionals who teach.

“There is a lot of growth in a short period of time, and what they do with these kids is a great thing,” Hatter said. “They also get to learn the etiquette of speaking and are able to gain confidence. It’s phenomenal what they do with the children — it’s amazing.”

This is the second year that Arkansas Baptist College will host the summer camp as part of its community outreach. Dr. Fitz Hill, the college’s president, said he believes art and music are a big part of the educational process.

Although the arts may not be the educational focus of all students, Hill believes it’s still important because it keeps them engaged in the academic process and provides them with a well-rounded education. He also believes that hosting the camp on a college campus gives children the opportunity to realize higher education can be a part of their life paths.

“It’s important to have youth on a college campus, because seeing other students going to college shows them that it’s part of the educational process, and college can be in their future,” Hill said.

The deadline for the Youth Summer Camp applications is June 5.

Hosting a free camp of this magnitude requires philanthropic support. The Foundation’s signature event, the Designer’s Choice Fashion Preview (DCFP), will be held April 2 at Metroplex Event Center in Little Rock. The annual show is considered Little Rock’s premier fashion event. The ninth annual DCFP, with “Music Meets Fashion” as the theme, will feature local designers as well as renowned fashion designer Korto Momolu, who serves as a mentor for the designers. Event proceeds are also used to support music and art programs in schools and to purchase instruments for children who may not be able to afford one.

“I can’t give everything away, but I will say that I believe this is going to be our best show yet,” Timmons-Shamberger said. “It will be music and fashion infused with a celebrity entertainer.”

For more information about the Summer Youth Camp and DCFP, log on to the Foundation’s website timmonsartsfoundation.org or call 501.221.1792.