Childrens Art Festival

The History and Importance of the Annual Festival

Brief History

The Children’s Art Festival, formerly known as The Chautauqua, began as an effort to resurrect the Chautauqua Movement of the late 1800’s and to connect the community to its regional history through activities and art. ( One of the first Chautauqua’s in Georgia was here in 1909! ) Originally a week long community cultural event, starting the first Saturday in March, the festival in its early years had dinners, music, art shows for children and adults, and even local tours to places such as such as to Broxton Rocks.

A major feature for many years now of the Children’s Art Festival is a juried art show, also on the same day with entries by High, Middle and Elementary School students from the area. This gives them the chance to exhibit their work on a larger more publicized platform, encouraging, and inspiring other students, and adults alike.

In addition, in the past the Childrens Art Festival would run concurrently with the Wiregrass Artist Guilds “Feature Artist of the Year” showcase and reception. (Every year the guild votes from their members who will be chosen for this honor.) In the interest of time management, beginning in the year 2012 this event will be moved to the fall.

In more recent years the festival, due to restructuring and lack of funding, has narrowed down to one day to focus on the importance of bringing art to the children of the surrounding area, and exposing them to opportunities they might not otherwise have a chance to experience. Most graciously, this event was formerly run by the City of Douglas, and is now  co-sponsored by Coffee Alliance for the Arts and Wiregrass Artist Guild. There is hope that in the future it will be restored to the broader vision that it once was.

 Childhood Development and the Importance of Art

Art for children is much more than a mess of crayons, glitter and glue. It is an important part of their development. They are learning to create skill sets that will be important through out their lives.

With children even as young as an infant, notice the focus and concentration on their face as they smear their fingers through their oatmeal all over their highchair tray. This is more than a mess to be later cleaned up, they are in the beginning stages of learning to communicate visually. Much in the same way that when learning to speak they will mimic sounds in an effort to perfect their vocal skills, Drawing with their lunch they are perfecting motor skills and mimicking shapes and lines of objects they see around them. And the beauty of this “mess” is just the beginning of many lessons in self expression to come.

Exposing your children to different forms of art will broaden the scope of what can be done and how. Their imaginations will be expanded and their creativity will follow.  When they are learning such things as Communication skills, Problem solving skills, Social and Emotional skills, and Fine Motor skills at a young age, art is the perfect outlet for them to experiment with these and learn to interact with their surrounding world.

Because it encompasses all the developmental domains, Art is an especially useful tool for developmentally challenged youth (such as ADHD, Autism, and Cerebral Palsy, etc…) as it is an activity that is easily ego building, and a wonderful form of expression, allowing the children to create bonds with others, especially in situations where they are under normal circumstances unable to do so. The Childrens Art Festival sets aside a specific time for this to take place during the day, allowing children with such challenges to come and participate in a safe and friendly setting.

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