Arts Experience Festival Focuses on Inclusivity – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Arts Experience Festival Focuses on Inclusivity

Arts Experience BG Club-0005 DUThe Hobart and William Smith community in conjunction with The Collaborative of the Finger Lakes will host the 8th Annual Arts Experience, a week-long festival from April 3 – 7 that celebrates inclusivity through creative expression. The Arts Experience is an opportunity for participants, including people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities, the HWS community and the public to explore various means of expression through the arts.

Free, open to the public, the festival will consist of more than 20 workshops on topics including dance, painting, gardening and mindfulness, as well as the Arts Experience Gala on Thursday, April 6 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center.

“Opportunities like working side by side on an art project, moving creatively together in a dance workshop, or even a brief moment saying ‘hi’ as we pass each other in the hallway, helps us make connections that may lead to greater understanding of another’s experiences and more awareness of the role we can each play toward contributing to a more inclusive world,” says Associate Professor of Education Mary Kelly, a member of the Arts Experience steering committee. “By having shared experiences and expressing ourselves creatively, we learn more about ourselves and each other which can foster solutions to addressing both personal and community concerns.”

Arts ExperienceThis year’s schedule includes yoga dance, drum circles, “squirt gun” painting, garden crafts at Fribolin Farm and the gala, which will feature performances by Three Miles Lost and the Hillside Youth Band, as well as exhibits from local artists who will allow guests the opportunity to create art from recycled materials. Professor of Dance Candace Whittier will lead performances throughout the evening and light refreshments will be provided.

The festival’s theme this year is “Planting Seeds,” inspired by the New York State mission statement on equal opportunity: “Let’s plant the seeds of community inclusion and make sure people of all abilities feel welcome. A community isn’t a community unless all of its members are able to take part.”

“The Arts Experience is important to me because it brings the wider community together and involves members in a collective process of creativity,” says Alec Rhodes ’18, who will lead sustainable art creation with Aubrey Phillips ’18 during the gala. “Beyond the symbolic merits of engaging and strengthening the community around creative expressions of and solutions to a range of important issues, the Arts Experience also allows those who don’t have much access to the arts to explore materials, processes and mediums.”

Other past Arts Experience participants, who receive services from The Arc of Schuyler, offer these reflections: Stacy Burdick says, “I get to know different people and to experience different things.  They show us new art techniques.” Susan Buchtel adds, “I love it!” Chris Locke recalls, “I learned to paint different things.” And Teresa Higbie says, “It has made me more interested in cultural things like art and music.”

Interested participants are encouraged to register as soon as possible before the Monday, March 27 deadline to ensure availability. A complete schedule for the workshop lineup is available here. For more information, please contact Mary Kelly at or call 315-781-4590.

In addition to support from five HWS departments, the Arts Experience is sponsored by the Hillside Children’s Center and the Collaborative of the Finger Lakes, non-profit organizations dedicated to advocating for individuals with disabilities and other challenges.