ARTS COUNCIL OF BIG SKY

On March 29, seven Lone Peak High School juniors journeyed to Seattle for a new adventure. Four days and a dozen immersive experiences later, these students returned to Big Sky inspired by potential careers in the arts.

The trip included writing, acting, and music workshops; Seattle Public Theater and Seattle Symphony performances; a visit with Seattle Art Museum professional staff; interactive tours of public radio station KEXP, Museum of Pop Culture and Seattle Center; and an exclusive tour of the Dale Chihuly Boathouse Studio, where all the glass artist’s works are created.

Students had to apply for the opportunity, and seven were selected by a blind panel of Arts Council board members with no connection to the student body. Anna Alvin, Julia Barton, Abi Hogan, Rhett Leuzinger, Evan Redmon, Howie Robin, and Jackson Wade participated in the trip.

The students made up the first cohort of a new Arts Council program called ARTventure, designed to demonstrate the variety of career paths for students with a strong interest in the arts. The program has been a dream of Executive Director Brian Hurlbut’s for years. Thanks to strong community support, including grants from the Spanish Peaks and Moonlight Foundations, this year it finally became a reality.

Hurlbut not only runs the Arts Council, but is a writer and a musician as well. He knows firsthand about the limitations of pursuing the arts in small-town Montana, and has always wanted to help young people learn about the opportunities available to them.

“Seattle has such a vibrant arts scene and I thought it was an obvious place to explore arts careers,” Hurlbut said.

He led the excursion with ACBS’s program outreach and education director Katie Alvin and Lone Peak High School art teacher Megan Buecking.

The trip proved eye-opening for many of the students. “I’ve spent time in Denver visiting family,” Hogan said. “But you don’t get to really be part of the city when you are a tourist. I feel a lot more comfortable with the city after this weekend [in Seattle].”

Many aspiring artists don’t realize how to have an arts career if you are not the artist yourself. The trip helped students learn more about these supportive roles. For at least one student, this made an impact. “I honestly never thought it would be interesting to have a job where I wasn’t the artist,” Barton said. “Now I see that’s not the case.”

Increasing student interest in the arts is the broadest goal of the ARTventure program, and partnership with local schools is key. The Arts Council has already taken three groups of sophomores to Bozeman as part of the program, and will expand in the coming year.

“Since we started our ARTventure trips last year I have seen a growth in interest and personal investment in the arts among the students,” Buecking said. “I look forward to seeing how they will contribute to our own developing culture in Big Sky.”

For more information about ARTventure and other Arts Council education efforts, visit bigskyarts.org.