Santa Barbara Museum of Art art kits are ready for distribution to local students.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art art kits are ready for distribution to local students. (Courtesy photo)

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) planned for the upcoming academic year with the hope of teaching on-site classes via its ArtReach program. However, due to continued concern for health and safety, schools quickly pivoted to online learning, meaning SBMA’s school and community programs had to pivot, too.

Starting even before the schools made their decision, the museum worked with teachers and administrators to offer the same quality and relevance of free programming that is offered in person.

SBMA’s ArtReach program, which has been serving schools in the Santa Barbara region for some 20 years and normally takes place in school classrooms, is now being offered live online via Zoom.

Virtual lessons include weekly instruction in drawing, collage and painting to children in second to sixth grade, as well as a specially designed program for kindergarten students introducing them to the essentials of art.

SBMA’s ArtReach program lessons still work to emphasize the materials and methods artists use, and the cultural context in which works are produced. Visual Thinking Strategies are used to connect students to original works of art in the museum’s permanent collection.

And while students cannot visit the museum in-person at this time, SBMA teaching artists and educators are prepared to give virtual field trips through conversations and videos.

Working in classrooms, as well as conducting after-school programs, such as Homework/Artwork, Art Appreciation, and Art Making in partnership with People’s Self-Help Housing, SBMA Teaching Artists will reach well over 500 students this fall.

The students include more than 100 second-graders at one school alone, who have each received an art kit from SBMA filled with art supplies and activity sheets. This continues an effort to ensure students have the supplies they need to create art themselves.

In addition, in response to continuing efforts for access, SBMA specially designed a sketchbook that was delivered, along with crayons, to the more than 1.500 students in third to fifth grade in the nine elementary schools in the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

The sketchbooks are filled with writing prompts, artist quotes, and creative drawing ideas. A printable version will be available on the museum’s website soon, along with a version in Spanish.

Various local teachers have responded saying such things as: “I know the third-to-fifth graders will be so happy to have these ‘official’ art supplies;” and “I am looking forward to working collaboratively to continue to bring art to Santa Barbara’s young people.”