Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Secret Origins of Our Regional Affiliate Network

Today's guest blogger, Alliance staff member Kat Hendrix, works with our Regional Affiliates nationwide. Our Regional Affiliates are some of the hardworking people behind The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards - and also an important part of our history.

For the last three years, as the Senior Manager of Affiliate Network & Partnerships, I’ve worked with the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers’ Regional Affiliates across the country. These are the wonderful people that work behind the scenes to make The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards a rewarding opportunity for their communities. They dedicate late nights and weekends to help students and teachers learn about the program, support them in the submission process, convene panels of professional jurors and provide exhibition opportunities and public ceremonies. Their hard work results in thousands of student submissions each year. Today, this robust network encompasses almost 100 organizations, including museums, nonprofits, school systems, newspapers and universities – a big change from the days when the program was run by two people out of an office in Pittsburgh.

The Regional Affiliate Network has a rich, fascinating history. In 1923, The Scholastic Awards were founded in Pittsburgh as a small writing program by a visionary man (and Scholastic Inc.’s founder) Maurice R. Robinson. A few years later, The Awards expanded to include visual arts; in 1928, an exhibition of Award recipients was held at Carnegie Institute’s Fine Arts Galleries. The program grew over time from dozens of entries, to hundreds, to thousands, to tens of thousands. In 1940-41, department stores were invited to sponsor a regional exhibition, and within a few years more than 50 department stores, newspapers, shopping centers and TV stations sponsored regional programs. This enabled thousands more students to participate and expanded the exhibition opportunities to local communities. Through this growing network, the number of people administering the program increased from the 2 or 3 individuals at the Scholastic offices in Pittsburgh to dozens more people across the country associated with a multitude of organizations.

It’s always people behind the institutions that provide the structure to move ambitions forward. In light of that, on behalf of the Alliance staff, we’re sending a big thank you to all of the Regional Affiliates for your daily inspiration and the selfless work that you do on behalf of teenagers with creative talent across the country. Your efforts do not go unnoticed.

If you are interested in learning more about the Regional Affiliate Network of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, please contact me at khendrix(at)artandwriting(dot)org.

~Kat Hendrix
Senior Manager, Regional Affiliate Network & Partnerships

Photo, above: Visitors view work on display at student exhibition organized by Fort Wayne, Indiana Regional Affiliate Fort Wayne Museum of Art.


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