Art, Film and Free Programs

Generally, as librarians, we find ourselves to be the ones who are trying to develop programs and bring people in and especially try and find free people to run a program that your teens will just eat up. Every so often, a program drops into your lap, though, and, if not free, is low budget. At my last library, we were approached by a young, local filmmaker who was trying to put out content as a way to get herself noticed. She proposed a multi-part program that ended up being a little too far reaching. Still, the idea was sound. In this case, we had the budget to pay them a small stipend, but they initially approached us with the idea of doing it for free – portfolio building!

What ended up happening was this: the filmmaker found a local artist who came to do a workshop with our teens. At first, she was going to do recycled jewelry but due to popular demand from our teens, she ended up switching to the last minute to a form of watercolor painting. See here for an in-work example:*. The artist had a blast with the teens, teaching them all sorts of free form things. They stuck different lace designs, saran wrap, salt and extra water in a spritz bottle on their paintings.

Through out the process the filmmaker record the teens’ reactions to the process and, once they were done, did a short three question interview with each of them. Before the event, she did provide wavers for each teen and, if under 18, their parent, to fill out and sign. Although we only got five teens, any more actually would have been difficult because the artist could not have spent as much personal time with each.

The original thought was to feature a different artist each month to work with the teens, but the schedules did not work. Still, the teens were able to show off their art to their peers with a mini-reception and, although there was an attempt to screen the short film for the other teens, the northeast weather this winter prevented it. Still, the video is up on YouTube and was shared via social media for the other teens.

What got me thinking, as a librarian, is that there are always young professionals in any community who are looking to beef up their resume. Also, those just out of college or grad school are also not that long out of their teens and, in my experience, generally do quite well meshing with the teens. If you have a local community college or four-year college or university, it might be worth it to reach out and see if there might be students looking for extra credit or an extra few lines on their resume for graduation. An art major could do art lessons, or maybe they’re in the dance club and can offer lessons. A lot of them will be willing to do it for free (maybe in return for a recommendation or plug for how well they did) or, for once, within your budget. If you don’t have a college, and not all of us are that lucky, perhaps a ‘Young Business Leaders’ program through the local Chamber of Commerce? Or the alumni association through the local high school(s).

*Photo provided with permission of the faceless teens. Video link also given with permission:

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