Festival of the Arts returns to Kingston

KINGSTON — A celebration of the arts in North Kitsap is nigh.

On May 26 Kingston High School will host the school district’s eighth annual Festival of the Arts.

“It’s really a celebration of the arts and arts education,” said James Andrews, an art teacher at Kingston High and the festival’s organizer. “It’s a big pat on the back to the kids for the work that they do.”

From 6 to 9 p.m. at the school, art in every form imaginable will be on display. The gym will host dance performances while musicians play in the commons, dramas are acted out in classrooms and the halls are lined with paintings, photos, carvings, dioramas, sculptures and more.

The timing of the festival — each year it falls during the last week of May — is purposeful. The State and North Kitsap school boards have designated May as Arts Education Month. Andrews is glad for the recognition the designation brings.

“Anytime you’re having a conversation about something and bringing it to a local level ... you’re bringing it home,” he said.

Local art schools, studios, designers, printmakers and painters will also be on hand to give their perspectives on making a living through art.

“The other piece of it is to bring in the people who have made arts a big part of their lives and show the kids that they can do that as well,” Andrews said. “It’s them trying to come out and educate the kids.”

Andrews emphasizes that the festival is not a contest, but there will be a couple of awards handed out. The Kingston High Fine Arts Boosters and State Rep. Christine Rolfes will give Andrews an award recognizing the contributions he has made to the local arts scene through events such as the festival.

Andrews will also present Kris Mayer of the Washington State Board of Education with an Arts Education Advocacy Award for the board’s role in promoting the arts. The board sponsored a contest earlier this year asking junior high and high school students to make videos explaining why arts education is important. The winning videos will also be played.

Andrews has his own ideas about why an education in the arts is important.

“(Art) is a way of knowing, a way of experiencing the world,” he said.

Just as subjects like math and science offer instruction in linear, methodical ways of learning about the world, the arts offer students a chance to learn about the world through sight, touch, sound and creative expression.

“It’s kind of odd that we have to go back and justify it,” Andrews said of arts education. “We don’t really have to justify the other subjects.”

Andrews would like students to have more opportunities in visual arts. That would involve learning visual art as a stand-alone subject, developing techniques step by step and gradually improving skills at each grade level.

“It’s a matter of dedicating the time to it to teach it in a deliberate way,” Andrews said.

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