Schools, AOP promote careers in the arts

Published 8:14 pm Thursday, October 5, 2017

Would you like to be a poet? How about a film producer? Educators want students to know the sky’s the limit.

That’s why Beaufort County Schools and Arts of the Pamlico teamed up Thursday to host an arts career fair at the Turnage Theatre. Representatives from area colleges, performers, sculptors, film producers and writers set up shop to share with students how they can pursue similar career paths.

“The creative industry employs 2.5 percent of our labor force in Beaufort County. We hope that through this event, our youth see themselves in the creative industry,” said Debra Torrence, executive director of Arts of the Pamlico. “Art is all around us, not just tucked away in a museum. It is up on stage; it is online; it is in our headphones and our classrooms.”

Ashley Padgett, curriculum coordinator with Beaufort County Schools, said most of the students in attendance Thursday had at least two years of arts courses under their belts. Many of them, however, showed interest in talking with an adult working in a different type of art career than the one they were studying, she added.

“We realize that the careers are not just traditional careers. You can have careers in the arts that can be very profitable, bring great joy to our community, and these are careers that people can actually do and return to our county,” Padgett said.

Padgett said Torrence jumped at the opportunity to promote the arts when the school system approached her.

Alice Jones, a 10th-grader at Washington High School, said she is interested in pursuing a career in the arts — something in theater, film or photography.

“It’s really interesting to see all the different art forms brought to life because you don’t really see it that often being in a small town. You’re always pushed to do what you can make the best of, and it’s not always that,” Jones said. “You’re always told to go down the same hallway, and you get to choose a different hallway.”

Daniel Garcia, a music and band teacher at Northside High, agreed that the fair was a good way to expose students to paths outside of a small town.

“The fact that we are actually creating an arts fair, I think it’s wonderful, especially for those kids who don’t want to go into engineering or have no idea what they want to do. This is a doorway where we can open up and say, ‘Hey, this is a path that’s happening,’” Garcia explained. “We, as a smaller community, may not understand that. In a bigger city, you have bigger arts councils. You have various things and opportunities that we’re still developing here.”

Garcia said some programs, such as STEAM, incorporate the arts into science, technology, engineering and math. However, many others don’t.

Art is all around, whether people notice or not, he said, echoing Torrence’s statement.

“We’re exposed to arts more than we think we are. From music waking up in the morning, throughout the day, to looking at a canvas and saying, ‘This is a beautiful piece of art,’” Garcia said. “Diversity is key.”