New Non Profit Builds Arts Equity Capacity
Daily News Record
November 19, 2021
Any Given Child Shenandoah Valley, formerly a program of the Arts Council of the Valley, gained independent status as a 501©3 nonprofit in July, the organization announced last month.
In addition to being financially soluble enough to raise funds for programming, being a standalone nonprofit allows Any Given Child to apply for more grant funding and allows it to operate with greater flexibility than if it were still a program of another organization.
“We’re still very, very new in the infancy of our existence as a 501©, but it does open us up to other grant opportunities. It opens us up to a lot of different things. There’s flexibility in being a 501©3 versus being part of a larger entity or organization,” said J.R. Snow, executive director of Any Given Child Shenandoah Valley.
Any Given Child, a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, is a network of arts educators in 26 cities across the U.S. who work to provide high quality arts experiences to students during the school day, Snow said. The goal is to give every child in a school system a high-quality experience, to help them learn about themselves, Snow said.
“As an educational leader nationally, to learn the trends. They’re a leader in arts integration, which we believe in. Their role is definitely that connectivity. They don’t provide funds; they provide the opportunity for us to network,” Snow said. “We know that we have access to the Kennedy Center and their artists. We’ve had some of their artists come down and work with our teachers. It’s great to have a Kennedy Center-recognized artist because we know the quality is going to be very, very high.”
Any Given Child Shenandoah Valley builds programming for grade levels for kindergarten through eighth in school systems or individual schools because its goal is to reach every single student, Snow said. It operates extensively through Harrisonburg City Public Schools and Snow, also coordinator of visual and performing arts for HCPS, said the new status is a step toward continuing to address the arts needs in Rockingham County Public Schools too.
Programming has included the Barefoot Puppet Theater from Richmond, which performed its original show “Galapagos George,” for 1,500 kindergarten through fifth-grade students across six performances at Keister, Spotswood and Bluestone elementary schools in early November.
Snow said programming has expanded to include Rockingham County Public Schools students in a partnership with the James Madison University Forbes Center, along with two weeklong residencies in middle schools working and a plan for seven programs in county elementary schools in the spring. Snow also said a new program is in the works to train local artists to perform in schools.
“I think it’s part of a natural growth process for the organization,” Snow said. “The opportunity allows us to focus our work a little bit more directly into education and access and equitable arts. Our time with the Arts Council was incredible, but they serve a larger, different need in a different space. We became financially soluble enough. We were able to develop some community buy-in. It’s a continued experiment.”
Snow said that in the past two years, he’s worked with Beth Harter, fine arts supervisor for RCPS, to incorporate some programming in the county. Snow said in a non-pandemic year, Any Given Child Shenandoah Valley serves 10,000 to 11,000 kindergarten through eighth-grade students across the two school systems.
“We are thrilled for them. We are absolutely thrilled that they have grown so much,” said Jenny Burden, Arts Council of the Valley executive director. “We loved working with Any Given Child when it was a program under our umbrella, and we look forward to working with them in the future.”
Given its new status, the organization will continue to rely on community partnerships and the sixth annual Lip Sync Battle on Dec. 8 to expand its mission.
Snow said the main fundraising channels include large events, including the Lip Sync Battle at Horizons Edge Sports Campus. The event features karaoke by community members. Snow said the event has raised over $100,000 over time and continues to grow each year.
“It’s evolved to be lots of stage presentation. It’s an incredibly fun night. It’s a party,” Snow said.
The event begins with a pregame party at 6:30 p.m., the main event at 7 p.m. and a post-game party complete with silent disco. Tickets are available online at agcshenvalley.org/lip-sync-battle to attend the various events throughout the night. Attendees can vote for a winner of the Lip Sync Battle by purchasing votes. Proceeds go to the nonprofit’s work.