Mission Memphis Day 4: ArtsMemphis

The Experience

On Day 4 I volunteered with ArtsMemphis at Conservation Through Art Family Day at Shelby Farms. One of the first things I learned that day was how ArtsMemphis views art access for Memphis residents. Barb Gelb told me about a program called Arts Access, which “ensures the arts are available to those who can’t always afford the price of admission.” Barb explained that they want every family and every child to experience things like the ballet, the symphony, and live theater because it makes people more aware of the world around them. She believes that “the arts enrich lives through building confidence, creativity and in ways we don’t even understand yet.” The stack of passes for Arts Access dwindled quickly at the event – obviously a coveted find for the numerous and diverse families that experienced the arts that day. Children were exposed to Shakespeare, Voice of the South’s Ugly Duckling performance, fishing, work dog demonstrations, and duck calling.

At the event, I met Sean – a high school freshman, who told me that he’d volunteered numerous places in the last year. I asked Sean about his experiences and which opportunity he liked best. Without hesitation he replied, “Picking up trash.” Ever eloquent, I responded simply. “Huh?” I asked. He laughed. He said that he liked it because he worked with his friends and he could tell that they had accomplished something – the park was in noticeably better shape when they left. Thank you, Sean, for reminding me that it’s not necessarily about what you’re doing as much as whether you feel like you’re making a difference and having fun while you do it.

I also met a group of high school students who had been assigned to manage parking for the event. I was asked to oversee the process so I walked up the hill from the Visitor Center and met four bright and talkative high school students. I started laying out a plan for parking, but stopped myself – these were smart young adults! I thought about Melonie Goolsby and what she taught me about students: it’s amazing what they can accomplish when we just get out of the way. I realized that they didn’t need me! They already had the problem solving and critical thinking skills to solve that issue and many others. These four students worked together, developed, and managed a parking system. Just think what else they can accomplish.

ArtsMemphis believes that exposure to the arts can develop creativity and appreciation for the world around us. If you haven’t attended one of the many opportunities through ArtsMemphis, you should take a look at their packed Event Calendar or consider contributing through one of the avenues below.

How to Help

Sign up to volunteer with ArtsMemphis on their volunteer website.

You can donate! Help fund worthy programs like Arts Access.

You can bet a guest reviewer! Check out their Rants and Raves section to review music, plays and more!

Attend an event. Look at their Event Calendar for upcoming activities. I went to Artafactor and it was great!

For more information about the Arts Access program contact Barb at bgelb@artsmemphis.org

If you’re thinking about volunteering with this organization or in general, but aren’t quite ready to jump in, email me at sarah.petschonek@gmail.com. Thinking about helping is the first step!

What comes after the 30 Days of Mission Memphis?  Volunteer Bound! I’m traveling across the country to promote volunteerism and I want to take you with me!

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2 Responses to Mission Memphis Day 4: ArtsMemphis

  1. Bill Petschonek says:

    Nice post. Picking up trash can be rewarding. I’ll have to remember that. Picking up trash can be rewarding.

  2. Ashamed to say I didn’t know about Arts Access. A contribution there would be a great gift for an art lover. And I totally get where Sean is coming from. Immediate impact (even when transient) can be an important experience for volunteers.

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