An arts advocacy group has teamed up with a Sitka-based chocolate company to sell candy bars to fund art scholarships for Juneau's graduating seniors.
SmART Bars - available at Alaskan & Proud, Juneau Arts & Culture Center and from Arts for Kids board members - are a fundraiser for two annual $500 senior visual arts scholarships offered to Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain high school seniors.
The fundraiser started two years ago by Arts for Kids, a nonprofit instrumental in starting the district-wide Elementary Art program, in partnership with Theobroma Chocolate Co., in Sitka.
Linda Frame, instructional services coordinator for the Juneau School District and six-year Arts for Kids Board member, said the project started when the nonprofit noticed there was no one in town who gave out visual art scholarships.
"We wanted to support the amazing artists who come out of the high schools," she said. "These scholarships not only give money to high school students graduating but also gives them the experience of presenting their art before a committee, who then judge them."
The SmART Bar wrapper design was adapted from Arts for Kids' signature logo, designed in 2004 in time for the first Community Arts Celebration.
Arts for Kids teacher Suzanne Malter said the genius behind the "SmART Needs Art" catch phrase belongs to Tom and Marianne Manning, and the graphics came from Kathleen Weist and Nancy Lehnhart.
"These graphics are what we copied last spring when we created the custom labels for the chocolate bars," she said.
In fulfillment of community service hours for his government class, Anthony James, a 2009 JDHS graduate, assisted Arts for Kids in adapting the logo into custom labels for four flavors - Alaska Moka, Sitka Crunch, Toffee Crunch and Milk Satin.
"It is important to recognize the talents that are produced through our high schools," Frame said. "Maybe we can inspire other groups to put money toward more art scholarships for our children."
The art scholarships are offered to any graduating senior who has a passion for the visual arts. Applying students do not need to be going on to art school but must be attending a college.
"We want to support the passion that so many show for making art - art for art itself," Frame said. "The money is then sent to the college directly to support the student financially in their needs to educate themselves. They may choose to buy supplies for art classes or books with this money."
To apply, students present to a panel of adults up to three pieces of work they completed during their high school career and explain verbally how art has enriched their lives.
"This project isn't about learning, it's about generating money to sustain these scholarships," Malter said.
Frame said the SmART Bars and art scholarships will continue as long as they are successful.
"We have no plans to stop at this point in time," she said. "We are doing this for the students to show our appreciation for their artistic abilities."
When bars are purchased directly from Arts for Kids board members, 100 percent of the profit goes toward high school visual arts scholarships. The bars, which cost around $4, are for sale all year. To order contact Shelagh Sands at 463-7273.
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