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Oxford

Art Angels of Oxford

An Oxford Acting Studio production of "Sir Gawain and the Green Night."
An Oxford Acting Studio production of “Sir Gawain and the Green Night.”

Program helps fund intensive classes for deserving students.

Rhes Low, Andi Bedsworth and Bailey Blu may all have different art backgrounds, but they still consider being an art teacher their primary role. They are behind programs that have offered programs for children and adults, from the traditional painting and theatre classes to merging acting lessons with a ballet. Andi Bedsworth, the driving force behind the mobile art studio Art-To-Go and Rhes Low, the founder of Oxford Acting Studio, each work in partnership with the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council to offer classes. This year, as the programs have continued to grow, the teachers and YAC recognized that the expanding services did not reach everyone in the community.

“We meet three times a year to discuss the classes, programs and opportunities,” says Low, “but we recognized that a divide had occurred between our community programs and intensive classes.”

Through, YAC, funding to support free classes and workshops is offered throughout the year. Art-To-Go’s Art Truck is becoming so successful in engaging the community that Chick-fil-A stepped in to sponsor the program, committing to double the number of free classes offered in 2013.

“While celebrating this achievement, we recognized that we did not create a system that ensured deserving students could be included in the more intensive week or semester long classes,” Bedworth says. The group discussed ways to address the issue.

“The free programs allow teachers to see students with potential, and they wanted to be able to provide access to the classes with fees,” says YAC Director Wayne Andrews. Through discussions with other arts organizations, the group hit upon the idea of Art Angels. This group would collect donations that would be used to provide scholarships to deserving students for intensive art classes. Teachers would agree to only charge the Art Angels fund for supplies for scholarship students.

“This would allow us to make more programs accessible by donating our time and talents,” says Bedsworth.

The art teachers asked YAC to manage the Art Angel fund. “We are serving as a resource for the teachers and programs,” Andrews says. “It will allow people to donate to a nonprofit agency that will oversee the program. The instructors, regardless of if the class is at the Powerhouse, will be able to apply for funds for a student in their class. The artists who teach these classes have agreed to accept partial payment in order to stretch funding and enable students who would not be able to attend the class the opportunity to be immersed in the arts and develop their passions.”

The group established a campaign to focus their efforts on the popular site indiegogo.

“We hoped that being part of a social media site would help us reach new people that recognized the importance of providing children access to the arts,” Bedsworth said.

To follow their progress, click here.

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