The Americana Project Turns 15

The Americana Project Turns 15

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The Americana Project in Sisters teaches young students to see arts as a lens through which they can view life. The Sisters Folk Festival kicks off the yearlong in-school program.

SistersFolkFestival2014The 20th season of the Sisters Folk Festival is this weekend, Sept. 5-7. A staple of the roots music scene in Central Oregon, the Sisters Folk Festival is much more than the wildly popular three-day concert series. It’s a year-round cultural arts organization with deep roots in the community. In addition to the Americana Project, its programs include My Two Hands and the Winter Concerts.

An offshoot of the Sisters Folk Festival, the Americana project started in the fall of 2000, five years after the inception of the music festival. Local musician Brad Tisdel co-founded the Americana project as a way to reach out to students of all ages in the Sisters School District.

An educational outreach program of the Sisters Folk Festival, the Americana Project provides innovative music and arts instruction for students from kindergarten through high school.

Tisdel, creative director of the Sisters Folk Festival, said the Americana Project represents a natural connection between the Sisters Folk Festival and the Sisters Public School District.

“Schools are the cornerstone of many communities, and we wanted to be sure that the festival was connected to the schools and the schools were connected to the community,” Tisdel said. “We acted as a conduit for music and arts education opportunities in the schools.”

Students in the Sisters School District are exposed to local, regional and nationally recognized guest artists who perform at the schools. The Americana Project includes mixed-media arts classes; songwriting lessons; classes on building custom guitars and ukuleles; and classes on playing instruments. High school students also have opportunities to learn about recording, engineering and performing.

The Sisters Folk Festival is the official kickoff of the Americana Project. Assemblies and visits by guest artists will be held Sept. 5 at all three Sisters schools, Tisdel said.

The culminating event of The Americana Project is the CD release concert at the end of the school year, when Sisters students perform on the guitars and ukuleles they have built.

“[The Americana Project] is one of Sisters School District’s flagship programs,” Tisdel said. “It is a community partnership that brings in over $75,000 a year into the schools to enrich their [arts and music] programming.”

In a society in which school budget cuts and pay-to-play programs are becoming more prevalent, the Americana Project is a vital program. “The [arts and music] enrichment programs are critically important to help young people appreciating and developing relationships with people outside the school,” Tisdel said.

The city of Sisters has become synonymous with innovative music and arts education programs. The Sisters Folk Festival is just one example of programs with a strong connection to the school district.

“Sisters is a small school district, and as a community we work closely together to provide opportunities,” Tisdel said. “Our community has embraced it, our schools have embraced it, and we have made the commitment to excellence in programming in the music and the arts.”

BendBroadband is a proud sponsor of the Sisters Folk Festival. For more information about the upcoming festival and community outreach programs such as the Americana Project, please click this link.

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