Artists Creating Together (ACT) is a new educational partner for ArtPrize Seven. ACT empowers individuals with disabilites through the arts and offers a varity of programs throughout the year. It is because of this exciting new partnership we were able to offer inclusion training to our ArtPrize Education Days partners and Docent Volunteers. We also increased our K–8 school programs. Last week, I sat down with Emily Evers to find out more about ACT and their programs.

Becca Guyette (BG): Tell me about yourself.

Emily Evers (EE): I am the Development Director of ACT, since 2014. As a native of Grand Rapids, I volunteered with ACT when it operated as Very Special Arts. After returning to Grand Rapids from college, I began working as the Assistant Director of the Arena District along with volunteering at several local nonprofits, eventually coming to ACT in October 2014. 

BG: What's ACT's mission?

EE: ACT empowers individuals with disabilities to learn, grow, and celebrate through the arts. ACT provides art and creative expression programming that enriches the lives of people with and without disabilities in every corner of West Michigan.

BG: Tell me about ACT's ArtPrize Education Days programs. 

EE: Classrooms—primarily special education classrooms—will come to the Downtown Market to experience a variety of art workshops in an exciting, unique way. The classrooms will rotate between four activity areas: sensory arts, culinary arts, creative movement, and ACT’s signature truck painting. This programming would not be possible without the generous partnership of the Downtown Market, who have donated their space, equipment, and time. The Education Day program from ArtPrize has enabled ACT to reach classrooms in a very special way—an experience that students will never forget!

BG: ACT is a new partner for ArtPrize this year. Why did you partner with ArtPrize Education Days?

EE: Arts Education is core to our mission at ACT. Each of our current school programs focus on increasing the social, cognitive, and artistic skills of individuals. For all students, arts and cultural experiences are an important tool for increasing academic, social, and artistic abilities. But, we know that for students who have disabilities, arts education is crucial. ArtPrize Education Days is a perfect fit for not only special education classrooms, but all classrooms to participate in arts-based programs.

BG: What other partnerships does ACT have in Grand Rapids?

EE: There's a lot! Community Media Center, Grand Rapids Public Schools, hospitals (Spectrum, Mary Free Bed, Metro), the access! gr program in partnership with numerous art and cultural agencies and disability organizations. We partner with school districts and special education classrooms and teachers within the Kent Intermediate School District, Frederik Meijer Gardens, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, Grand Rapids Ballet, Creston Neighborhood Association Garden—the list goes on.  

BG: What are you looking foward the most to ArtPrize Seven?

EE: At ACT, we celebrate all arts AND all abilities. We believe that this partnership with ArtPrize enables us to execute our mission in a very impactful way—by encouraging classrooms with special needs students, or without, to enjoy and know they have access to ArtPrize with a unique, meaningful art experience.

BG: How can people connect with you and ACT?

EE: 

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