The Aldrich Awarded National Endowment for the Arts Funding

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has announced an Art Works award of $20,000 to The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. The funding will support the launch of Art Opens Doors, an innovative museum education partnership with Side by Side Charter School in Norwalk, CT, where a holistic approach to learning centered on the child begins in the classroom and reaches the entire school community.
Serving pre-K through 8th grade students, teachers, adminstrators, and families, Art Opens Doors will build on the partners’ six-year record of creating groundbreaking programming by implementing a model for whole-school engagement. The program is distinguished from other art outreach initiatives by its main tenet: impacting the curriculum and school culture by direct engagement with Aldrich exhibiting and teaching artists through Museum-based and in-classroom programs.
Art Opens Doors will be inaugurated at Side by Side in the fall of 2017. The program’s goals include providing access to the Museum’s exhibitions, practicing artists, and collaborative educational opportunities for the school’s community. It will harness students’ inherent curiosity, recognize the pivotal role teachers play in students’ learning and life experiences, and encourage families to learn and create art together, promoting inter-generational engagement.
Students in pre-K through 6th grade will participate in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art (+Design), and Math) Tours, an Aldrich program led by Museum educators that positions art and design as equally critical in teaching 21st-century skills, interwoven with technical fields or subjects. Students will focus on all classroom subjects through
the lens of The Aldrich’s exhibitions. Students in the 7th and 8th grades will engage with internationally renowned Aldrich exhibiting artists and regionally recognized teaching artists in week-long classroom residencies through the Museum’s Common Ground program, using project- and problem-based learning to explore ideas, collaborate, and take ownership of their learning experiences.
Building upon the students’ classroom and in-Museum learning, Art Opens Doors provides resources for educators and administrators, including Aldrich-led professional development workshops for all classroom disciplines, designed to help staff prepare their students for the activities they will engage in during this program. In a strategic effort to increase opportunities for authentic engagement with students’ families, Family Nights will be an essential part of Art Opens Doors, allowing parents, siblings, and caregivers to engage in workshops at the school. Here, families will join in Aldrich-led activities that overtly model the key tenets of Art Opens Doors and will strengthen parental understanding of their child’s learning.
National Endowment for the Arts chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $82 million to fund local arts projects across the country in the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017. The NEA received 1,728 Art Works applications and will make 1,029 grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000.
We are so proud to have received this award from the NEA for our work with Side by Side Charter School. The partnership between The Aldrich and Side by Side shines as our gold standard for collaboration with regional schools. The Museum and Side by Side share the beliefs that a school community includes the entire family, students, teachers, and the civic arena in which students live, and that prolonged engagement with, and thoughtful examination of, art are essential components of lifelong learning.  We are thrilled and honored to deepen our relationship with Side by Side through Art Opens Doors. – Tracy Moore, Director of Public Programs & Audience Engagement, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
Side by Side has been engaged in an exciting and innovative partnership with The Aldrich since the fall of 2013. Since that time, The Aldrich has been an indispensable part of our implementation of Common Core Mathematics and English Language Arts, and Next Generation Science Standards, providing us with both professional development and a rich and complex context for engaging students in high level thinking skills. By exploring the world through engagements with contemporary and art and artists, our teachers and students alike to enhance their abilities as learners and creators of new learning. We are thrilled to begin the next level of our partnership through the NEA award.  – Mary Newbery, Assistant Director, Side by Side Charter School


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