Arizona nonprofit provides arts education to students through VR program

Students use virtual reality headsets to access arts education.

Like so many groups, the pandemic pushed Act One to get creative on how to continue serving students with educational art programs.

Leaders of the Phoenix-based nonprofit were determined to make sure participation in the arts wasn’t sidelined during COVID-19 and that 10,000 Title 1 students can access field trips virtually.

Turns out the shift reduced the time and financial barriers that many schools face when it comes to providing arts education. Students from across the state were able to take immersive field trips and view artwork from Chicago and Tucson.

Every year one virtual field trip is added to the collection that includes stories of Mexican and Native American music and art. Students are able to virtually attend ballet and symphony performances and visit museums.

Last year the group received a $7,500 Season for Sharing grant which helped fund its virtual reality program.

“Our VR Field Trip program can still inspire children through the use of this new technology to explore places and art forms that children in Arizona may never have the chance to see,” said Bernadette Carroll, Act One’s executive director.

How do you gauge success? It’s more than basic attendance figures. We recently started a partnership with Artworks at Arizona State University to assist with survey development, data collection and analysis. Data will be used for publications, presentations, news media, our program improvement and grant applications.

What are your organization’s greatest needs? Funding to support and grow our virtual reality field trip program to help us film and produce additional content. This new technology is expensive. We receive support from foundations and corporations that see the potential of this new medium as a way to provide access to the art.

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