""Photo of children in group performance on a stage in colorful costumes

About our Artist in
Residency Program

The Artist in Residence (AIR) Program is made possible through a collaboration with The ArtsCenter and the Orange County School district. This initiative allows us to bring five-day immersive art residencies to nearly 2,000 students across four Title 1 elementary schools in Orange County (New Hope, Central, Efland-Cheeks, and Grady Brown) free of charge.

Our residencies encompass a wide array of artistic disciplines - from African drumming to drama, ceramic mosaics, dance, textiles, puppetry, storytelling, poetry, and more. On top of this,, each child experiences the magic of a live, professional theater performance within school-wide assemblies. With over 50% of these students receiving free or reduced lunch, many of them have not had the opportunity to encounter arts enrichment beyond the school environment.

The program's mission focuses on achieving North Carolina Public Schools' common core curriculum goals by presenting subjects in novel and imaginative ways, fusing together artistic disciplines and multicultural perspectives, social-emotional learning, and principles of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Our teaching artists collaborate closely with classroom teachers, developing lesson plans that resonate with both the students' day-to-day lives and their academic aspirations. To learn more about the AIR Program and its impact, please reach out to our AIR Coordinator, Virginia Queen, a vqueen@artscenterlive.org

What our teachers say

“The program provided by the ArtsCenter is important to my students. They enjoy having the opportunity to see live theater, learn performance techniques, and get up and move. My school has 100% free breakfast. Families living in poverty do not have the resources to provide live theater experiences.”
Lora Wilder
2nd Grade teacher- New Hope Elementary
“I love how Virginia took our science unit about the solar system and brought it to life for our students through creative movement, music, and performance. The students loved seeing her, and students who would typically be scared to interact in group settings came alive in her lessons!”
Kendra Jarrell
3rd Grade teacher- Efland Cheeks Elementary
“I had an autistic student that was non-verbal at the beginning of school. The first time he was able to attend one of Mr. Pettee’s (music) sessions, my student was overjoyed. He clapped the entire time and danced and even sang along. Never had I seen him smile and enjoy something so much!”
Kim Daniel
Kindergarten teacher- Grady Brown Elementary

Meet Our Teachers

Braima Moiwai

moved to the United States from Sierra Leone in 1986. He has received multiple awards for sharing his art forms of drumming, storytelling, and fabric art. Braima has also been recognized for promoting and preserving West African Culture in educational settings.

Charles Pettee

is a guitar and mandolin-wielding songwriter and music educator. He was a founding member of The Shady Grove Band and has 14 albums to his name. He performs festivals and special events throughout North Carolina and South Carolina, logging over 6,000 performances over the course of his career.

Jason Abide

has been making pottery and ceramic art since 2002. He endeavors to share his enthusiasm for his craft through the work he makes and the classes he teaches. Jason builds ceramic murals with his students to create community projects that are permanently installed in the focus schools.

Virginia Queen

Virginia is an arts educator, administrator, actor, choreographer, director and social justice artist. She has worked in these fields for over 25 years and has been a part of The ArtsCenter family teaching a variety of programs for close to 20 years. When teaching residencies for the AIR program, she integrates drama, poetry, performance, dance, movement and writing into K-12 curriculums. She is a founder of the AIR program, the AIR coordinator for 8 years, and continues to serve as a teaching artist mentor for the program.

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