Enrollment open for free Media Arts classes
If a 16th birthday can be considered the threshold between adolescence and adulthood, between the formative years and emerging maturity, then the MAPS Media Institute, as it prepares for its 16th year of operation, is coming of age in a big way.
MAPS, founded in 2004 in the Bitterroot Valley, is a non-profit media arts organization that offers free-of-charge classes in filmmaking, graphic design, music production and new technologies to 8th-12th grade students. Their state-of-the art facility at 515 Madison Street in Hamilton offers both Apple and PC computer labs, productions spaces and a recording studio. Students work with professional artists on media projects that foster creative expression, technical proficiency, collaboration and self-discovery. The mission of MAPS is to empower, inspire and prepare Montana’s next generation for future success through professional media arts instruction, engaged community service, and compassionate mentoring. Given the proficiency with which MAPS has gone about executing that mission, it’s no surprise that the organization is experiencing a significant growth year.
For the past few years, MAPS has been intentionally expanding its geographic reach across Montana. In addition to the Ravalli County afterschool and summer programs, MAPS also facilitates workshops on a number of rural and Reservation communities, including the Flathead, Blackfeet, and Fort Belknap Reservations through its statewide outreach program, the MAPS Media Lab. In 2017, MAPS was honored with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Programs (NAHYP) award as one of the top twelve youth development programs in the country.
“By providing relevant and engaging opportunities for students to develop media literacy and communication skills, students learn that their ideas and stories matter and that people, near and far, are listening and paying attention. says Clare Ann Harff, MAPS Executive Director.
2019 marks MAPS’ 16th year of serving Bitterroot students, but it also marks the launch of MAPS – Lewis and Clark County, a year round afterschool and summer media arts program for students in the Helena area. MAPS was recently awarded a five-year, U.S. Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Center grant, which specifically funds afterschool and summer programs and is managed by the Montana Office of Public Instruction. This is the third time the MAPS received this federal grant. “Even though the 21st century grant only partially funds our program, it allows us to significantly invest in the necessary equipment and qualified staff to deliver the best service possible,” says Harff. Half of the grant funds will contribute to running MAPS – Ravalli County and half the funds will assist in launching MAPS – Lewis and Clark County, where MAPS will find a new home with some old friends at the Holter Museum of Art.
Through partnerships with the Holter Museum of Art and the Mryna Loy Theater, and with funding from the Greater Montana Foundation, MAPS offered several filmmaking workshops in the Helena area the past few years with intense student engagement. One of the films, “Art for Survival,” won a High School Production Award, equivalent to a student Emmy, from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, NW Chapter. It was the success of these workshops that inspired MAPS to raise funds to establish a year round MAPS program in the Helena area.
For 8th to 12th grade students in Ravalli County, that means continued access to professional instruction and equipment at no charge. MAPS after school media arts classes begin on September 23, 2019. Filmmaking and Technology classes will run on Mondays and Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., while Design and Music classes are scheduled for the same time on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The 32-week courses are broken down into four 8-week segments, and students have the flexibility to accommodate other after-school activities as needed. Students can enroll at any time throughout the school year and all skill levels are welcome.
“MAPS is powered by the support of many engines: students, families, artists, public schools, government agencies, individual donors, corporate sponsors, private foundations and the communities we serve. At the heart of this unified and generous effort is the belief that investing in Montana’s youth is key to a successful future for all of us,” Harff concluded. “As MAPS is welcomed into other communities across Montana, we are always proud to say that MAPS was born in the Bitterroot.”
Online registration is available at mapsmediainstitute.com, and more information can be found on the website, or by calling (406) 381-7230.