Middlesex College is hosting the annual Middlesex County Teen Arts Festival via Zoom on March 17 to continue the Teen Arts Festival experience amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Annie Hogan, chair of the visual, performing and media arts department, said, “The 2021 Middlesex County Teen Arts Festival will be a virtual event where we’ll be presenting workshops in visual art, music, dance, photography, theater, radio and creative writing.”
Donna Anonsen, the lead coordinator of the Middlesex County Teen Arts Festival, said the festival would still have the same activities as the in-person event.
“The festival program will include adjudications and workshops in the literary, performing and visual arts. All submissions will be virtual, and all adjudications will be live and virtual. All workshops will be live, interactive, as well as recorded for future viewing,” Anonsen said.
She said students will be able to share their creative talents with professional artists in real time.
Anonsen said as in previous years, all public, parochial and private schools in Middlesex County are eligible to participate.
She said that home-schooled students are also eligible.
Hogan said, “Students can participate in workshops or have their own works adjudicated from the comfort of their own homes or at school.”
Anonsen said that individual students and schools must register to participate.
“Registration is open now online at www.middlesexcc.edu/teen-arts,” she said.
Anonsen said the committee dedicated to organizing and running the Middlesex County Teen Arts Festival decided to hold the festival as a virtual event because it was important to continue providing this event to students.
“This is an important event for the talented students and teachers of the creative arts…in Middlesex County,” she said, “Students and teachers, many of which have been in some form of virtual learning for almost a year, need this outlet for their creativity.”
Kyra Smith, a graphic design student from Middlesex County, said she would have been interested in participating when she was in high school.
“Being in graphic design, a portfolio is the most important aspect after networking. I would love to have someone critique my work and provide portfolio tips. I think for any visual arts program, having your work critiqued is important,” said Smith .
Smith said she understood both the downsides and benefits of conducting this event virtually.
“I think that certain performing arts may be at a disadvantage with the virtual events, but certain visual arts will have a benefit. I do think being virtual takes some pressure off. In my mind, the public school system has turned art into two things, a requirement or a job for dreamers, so having your work critiqued digitally when you’re planning to pursue it as a career takes some of that pressure off, and makes them a bit more confident,” she said.
Clara Melvin, a performing arts student at MC, said the virtual aspect of this event is a learning opportunity, especially for performing arts students.
Melvin said, “COVID-19 has changed the landscape of performance and many people have had to shift gears to keep working. These kids are going to get some really valuable life experience.”
Hogan said, “Our goal this year is to provide a creative, informative and meaningful one-day experience for our county teens aged 13-19. We are excited to connect with these students and provide something special for them.”
Anonsen said, “This experience will encourage and deepen their (students) creative knowledge. I strongly encourage students and administrators to give their students this opportunity for artistic growth.”
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