Thursday, March 21, 2013

How Can You Host a School-Wide Art Contest?

Even if you travel to different schools in your district, it is possible to have an art contest for your students!  I would like to share how your district can start your own contest, and how our district has been able to host an annual art contest/art show every year.  It has been a successful event every year, with a high amount of students who enter. 

How will you be funded? In the past, our district had received a grant to pay for all the expenses of the contest that included: frames, t-shirts for the winners, treats and beverages for the art show, paper for the contest, stipend for after school hours, and more.  The grant did end, but since our district found the art contest and annual show so supportive, we have been able to allocate funding within our means.  If you discuss the idea with the district superintendant, create an example of what funds would be needed.  If other art teachers are involved, create the budget as a team.  Think about what is needed, like drawing paper, fliers, entry form print-outs, and other expenses with exposing a district-wide event.  If funds are not available, create a project on "Art Room Aid" or "Donors Choose" to help with funding of materials needed.  You can also add in easels and props for the art show through both sites!

Is there any local business willing to help?  We combined efforts with a local framing company in Orland Park called "The Great Frame Up."  The company graciously frames each of the student winners for minimal cost, and event present their own award for an overall winner.  Is there a local frame company in your area?  Consider walking in and talking about your project.  Some companies are already willing to help, they may just be looking for schools to work with!  Local cafes and shops are also willing to help out, sometimes all you need to do is ask!

What rules would there be for the contest? There are three elementary art teachers in our district, and two of us that travel to different schools.  At each school we teach at, we introduce the contest, rules, and present examples of past student winners.  Listed below are the guidelines for our district's contest, which you may use or change for your own needs:

1. Art pieces must be the original work of the student. 

2. Submitted work may not be traced from another piece of art.

3. There is no theme so use your imagination!

4. All entries must be FLAT.  No 3-D pieces accepted.

5. Entries must be 11x14 inches or smaller (entries larger than 11x14 inches will not be considered for judging because they would be too large for the frames).

6. There must be a one-inch border around the submitted artwork.

7. The name, school, and grade are written on the back of the work.

8. No photographs or computer-generated work accepted.

9. Entry forms need to be filled out for each artpiece to turn in.

What length of time would we have for students to enter work? We give about two months for students to enter projects for the contest, and even encourage students to enter completed class assignments if they wish.  Art teachers are also given a stipend for offering after school time for students to work with materials not available to them at home.  Work on a time frame that is best for your district.  With teh crazy amount of contests in our schools, our students begin the contest in January and projects are due in March, normally before ISATS.  Judging takes place in mid-March to give the frame company time to set up all the frames.

How should you judge?  After all the projects are collected, the art teachers judge each of the schools seperately.  Five pieces are chosen from each school, but if more than one piece chosen was created by the same student, the teachers will make sure that five different students are chosen.  The chosen artworks are then sent to The Great Frame Up to be professionally framed for the art show at the end of the school year. 

The teachers judge on quite a few things: composition (does the artwork fill the paper?), originality (was the drawing/painting the student's own work, or did they copy another cartoon?), and craftsmanship are the main points the judges look for.  Also, since I teach at Wilkins and Lyle, I cannot judge those schools.  This keep the student work anonymous and unbiased.  Below are the winners chosen from my two schools for the 2013 school year:

Winners from Lyle Elementary

Winners from Wilkins Elementary

When do you have the show?  Our district has the annual art show in May, which gives the frame company time to complete the artworks.  We also send out invitations to the winners families, and print certificates to all students who entered the contest.  Printing certificates shows that you acknowledge the student's effort in entering the contest, plus they enjoy the recognition.

There's more!  Is there a state art contest coming soon?  Consider offering to your students to re-enter into another contest.  Currently, IAEA is collecting artworks for the statewide Student Show, and I have been asking students if they would like another chance to enter.

Do you have contests in your district?  I'm interested in hearing what other schools do!

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