I'm back in Iola, KS this month, doing another performance residency for most of September. This is thanks to the Bowlus Fine Arts Center.
I don't think I've given enough credit to the Bowlus in the past. This is an excellent arts center in rural Allen County. The Bowlus presents all kinds of performances--music, theater, arts--from regional and national companies throughout the year. The Bowlus is also well known for the annual Buster Keaton Celebration, coming up on Sept. 24 and 25. The Center hosts the school district art, drama, speech, forensics and music programs. It's one of the reasons I have hope for the arts in Kansas.
The benefactor, Thomas H. Bowlus, is quoted on the front of the building:
This residency in Iola was contingent upon funding from the Kansas Arts Commission, which of course did not come through (see my previous post), but the Bowlus is committed to the arts in this community, so they honored the contract. They have had a storyteller in the schools every year for many years. Last time I was here was in 2007.
As I've written before, residencies come in different forms. In some residencies, I visit the same classes multiple times. Some are workshops instead of performances, like the Deep Roots, Strong Kids Family Story Residency. This one is a performance residency, one in which I visit every elementary school classroom in the district (three towns) once, tailoring each session to the age and grade of the kids. It's a treat for me to visit classrooms instead of doing assemblies.
More on residency reflections next.