Daily News Record: October 15, 2015
LIP SYNC BATTLE TO BOOST NONPROFIT
Arts Education Initiative To Host Three-Day Contest At Court Square Theater
Posted: October 15, 2015
By NOAH CLARK
At the Lip Sync Battle in The ‘Burg, the singing might be fake, but the chance to help children gain access to the arts is real. Any Given Child Harrisonburg is hosting the three-day contest at Court Square Theater on Oct. 21, Nov. 4, and Dec. 2.
Any Given Child Harrisonburg is a partnership between Harrisonburg City Public Schools and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. It focuses on access and equity in arts education for students in prekindergarten through eighth grade, J.R. Snow, director of Any Given Child Harrisonburg, said. “Ultimately, our goal is for 3,500 plus kids to engage in experiences that the normal budget might not offer,” he said. “We also want to provide teachers with training in arts integration.”
Ten contestants, five on each night, will compete for the audience’s approval during the first two performances on Oct. 21 and Nov. 4. Then the top three performers from each night will advance to the final round held on Dec. 2. Contestants are volunteers from the community, Snow said.
The first night will feature Kristin Gibson, assistant director of marketing and technology at James Madison University; Andy Perrine, associate vice president for communications and marketing at JMU; Harrisonburg City Councilman Abe Shearer; Eric Miller, vice principal at Harrisonburg High School; and actress Dawn Womack.
The second night, Nov. 4, features Cannie Campbell, director of corporate and foundation giving at JMU; Golden Pony owner Paul Somers; Q101 radio show host Brandy Lindsey; Paula Polglase, assistant director of alumni relations, communications and marketing at JMU; and Todd Gardner, president of Glass and Metals auto glass shop. Each night will feature two rounds, separated by a presentation about Any Given Child Harrisonburg and an intermission.
While the songs themselves are under wraps until the event, there will be a variety of genres
on display, Snow said. “It’s all about what makes the contestant comfortable,” he said. “So far it seems like a lot of comedy and engaging the audience. They are going to go all out and have fun with the
opportunity.” Judges will be on hand, but the decision as to which contestants advance will be in the
hands of the audience. “We are going to have a smartphone app that everybody can download, so you can vote for your favorite person,” he said.
The event offers the community something different that hasn’t been done before, Miller said. “The ‘Lip Sync Battle’ TV show on Spike is a big hit, and Jimmy Fallon does his thing on the ‘Tonight Show,’ which is a hit,” he said. “It’s a popular thing right now, which will help draw people to the event.”
While entertaining the crowd is an integral aspect of the show, contestants understand the importance of having the arts in schools. Gibson said art was always one of her favorite classes when she was in school, and she’s glad to have an opportunity to help students gain access to the arts.
The arts serve as an essential part of any student’s education, Snow said. “Every person is organically creative in some way,” he said. “Through education, we have a responsibility to ensure that we reach that child in that space, so they can continue to build themselves as a creative body and learner.” Entrepreneurs and other professionals have to be creative to solve problems that come up in their work, Snow said, adding that people may look at the arts as just an orchestra or a museum, but the arts are everywhere. “Harrisonburg does a wonderful job of showcasing that with these First Friday art displays and live music in different genres,” he said. “Imagine the beer festival without music. Imagine
Clementine without the art on the wall. There are so many different ways art is being showcased. We wanted to create a fun, affordable way that the community can come out. We can laugh and learn about what is going on.”
Snow, who has worked with the school division for 10 years — first as a band director at Harrisonburg High School and now as the fine arts coordinator — said during his tenure, he has seen the community expand its emphasis on the arts. The next step is to educate students who will be a more active part of the community in the coming years. “We believe every child is one more piece of the puzzle in a great artistic community,” he said.
The organization has a goal of raising $150,000 by the end of the school year. There is no paid staff, so all of the money raised by the organization goes toward training teachers and providing students experiences in the arts, Snow said. However the organization has partners throughout the community, including James Madison University’s Forbes Center, Snow said. The partnerships help drive costs down. For example, a trip to a performance at the Forbes Center only costs the group what it takes to transport the students, he added.
Tickets for each show are $20 in advance or at the door. They can be purchased at Court Square Theater’s website www.valleyarts.org. At each performance, doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the shows start at 7 p.m.
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