February 2017

by DeeGee Lester, Director of Education/ The Parthenon

 In Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, Lord Darlington defines a cynic as a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Indeed, “how much does that cost” pales in importance as a question in comparison to “how does this illustrate and enrich our lives.” The tradition of arts festivals brings together communities to explore and discover the value of the arts as an expression of who we are.

On March 4, the Factory in Franklin hosts the fourth annual WCS Fine Arts Festival (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) showcasing the creativity and cultural contributions of students from Williamson County Schools. The popularity of this festival is evident, attracting almost 5,000 people last year into an environment that inspires conversations and interactions around both visual and performance art.

With a sense of pride, nearly 1,500 K–12 students have the opportunity to express their unique voice and vision through the arts, ranging from visual arts and theatre to music, including band, chorus, and orchestra performances. In addition to the 2- and 3-dimensional artworks displayed in the Factory gallery commons area, Third Coast Clay will offer a hands-on collaborative arts project to festival visitors.

“This yearly event serves as a spotlight on the tremendous amount of work being done in our fine arts programs in Williamson County Schools, as well as publicly acknowledging the value of arts education to the foundation of a nationally recognized school district,” says WCS Fine Arts Specialist Melissa Dufrechou.

Artworks by participating students are selected by individual teachers or teacher panels. Dufrechou explains, “This is a completely non-competitive event in which students simply get to show off what they are doing. All of our schools are on equal footing with the primary focus being quality arts education programming.”

Years of research have documented the connection of the arts to improved student academic performance throughout the nation. In addition, a strong school arts program serves as a foundation upon which to build the reputation of a city in reinforcing the importance of the arts to community culture.

Photographs by WCS Communications Department

Putting together this massive event is a labor of love. The festival is 100% community funded. In addition to Williamson County Schools and the host site (the Factory at Franklin), local sponsors include WCAR (Williamson County Association of Realtors), Spring Tree Media Group, SWC (Signs and Wonders Company), Third Coast Clay, Partners in Building, Lincoln Financial Group, Shuff’s Music and Piano Showroom, Twine Graphic Design and Screen Printing, the Education Foundation for Williamson County, Andrews Transportation Group, and Nashville Violins.

A highlight of the event is the featured evening performance by Tracy Silverman along with the Centennial High School Guitar Ensemble and orchestra members from across the county.

Everyone is invited to enjoy the festival and see and experience the best of arts education.

For information, see www.wcs.edu/schools/fine-arts.

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