Mayor George Miller


a Program of the Tucson-Pima Arts Council

1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.

The Multimedia Arts Education Center, a component of the Tucson-Pima Arts Councilís Arts Education Program, provides multimedia/communication experiences and skill-development opportunities for lower-income, middle school youth, encouraging them to use arts technology tools to express their creativity, develop critical thinking skills, and gain confidence within a safe, respectful summer and after-school learning environment.


  • to provide opportunities for students to succeed and excel in a creative atmosphere in the hopes of cultivating further successes in their educational and life pursuits;
  • to keep youth motivated to stay in school by providing innovative learning experiences which compliment and enhance school curriculum;
  • to instill in students productive school/work ethics, i.e., punctuality, professionalism, meeting deadlines, completing work;
  • to promote the benefits of learning through the arts and varied forms of literacy;
  • to increase opportunities for youth of lower-income families to gain access and experiences with technology.

Students progress through four primary arts technology classes (one class per semester or summer) before proceeding to the last semester, a portfolio preparation class. Each class consists of 120 hours with a 1:10 teacher/student ratio. As students complete skill levels, they can earn two small educational incentives each semester. When all requirements of the program are met, each student earns a computer for his/her family.

Classes focus on basic skill building, sequential learning, self-assessment and critiquing, culminating with the application of skills through individual student projects. Arts technology labs include:

Language arts: an overview of creative writing, i.e., poetry, short stories, novels, articles and essays, as well as a reinforcement of grammar, spelling, punctuation, effective word choice, and vocabulary skills (Clarisworks software, Macintosh and PC computers)

Computer graphics: basic graphic design including conceptional drawing, thumbnail sketches, color theory, typography and layout. Student learn to draw, scan, and manipulate images (Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop software, Macintosh computers, digital cameras, photo scanner)

Computer animation: combination of both traditional and digital animation techniques using sketching and drawing, flip books, character creation, use of text, frame by frame work, elements of movement, action and emotion, and computer techniques such as squash and stretch, exaggeration, and morphing. (Deluxe Paint software and Amiga computers)

Video Production: history of video technology, camera operation, audio, critical viewing, analysis/deconstruction, and the creative process are covered (VHS and SVHS cameras and editing decks, Amiga toaster, microphones, and three-instrument lighting package)

Portfolio Preparation: creation of individual student portfolios - two-dimensional, digital, video tape, printed materials and web pages. (Quark, Pagemill software and all previous hardware)

2. When was the program created and why?

The first class began in January, 1996 and 23 students have graduated since the first class in July, 1997. Study after study has documented the growing gap between low-income youth and more affluent in ability to become proficient in technology. The middle school students targeted for this program are from minority communities (93% are Hispanic, Native American or African American) and lower income families (95% are on free or reduced lunch programs). Students do not have computers in their home, and the computer awarded at graduation is awarded to the family.

3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?

In five semesters they spend 600 hours learning to scan and morph photos, software programs such as Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, and to write and design. By sticking to this program in the critical middle school age for five semesters, we believe the youth in this program are learning more than computer skills. In April, 1998 the Tucson-Pima Arts Council received a University of Arizona/Community Kellogg Foundation grant to track the graduates from the first six graduating classes through their high school career in a longitudinal research to document the impact of this program.

4. How is the program financed?

Funding is diversified, City of Tucson Youth Funding, Pima County Youth Funding, National Endowment for the Arts Challenge Grant, U.S. WEST Foundation, School to Work Grant, and the Governorís Office of Drug Prevention.

5. Is the community involved in the program?

At the end of each semester over 150 extended family, community leaders and media attend the graduation ceremonies celebrating the graduation. In 1996 youth were awarded $500 and a party from CNN as one of 25 nationally in the design of a political campaign presented by the local cable company; 1998 design and slogan for Spanish Language billboard on "donít drink and drive" funded by Tucson Electric Power and MADD.

6. What are the major lessons learned from the program?

Initial expense for hardware, software and networking for internet access can be expensive; recruitment of skilled technology instructors who are great with middle school youth is a challenge; youth with difficulties in school classrooms can find success in technology labs.

7. Contact Person:

Dian Magie, Executive Director

Tucson-Pima Arts Council

240 North Stone

Tucson, AZ 85701

(520) 624-0595 ext 11

FAX (520)624-3001

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