May is officially Arts Education Month in Ellensburg

May is officially Arts Education Month in Ellensburg | Courtesy of

Evan Couch, News Editor

Ellensburg Mayor Nancy Lillquist signed a proclamation on Monday, May 2 officially making May Arts Education Month in Ellensburg. Gallery One Director Monica Miller said she feels great about the proclomation as it opens Ellensburg to new opportunities for the community to have better access to the arts.

“What I’m hoping it means is that it confirms the city’s interests and the value that the arts are an important part for our youth education here in the city of Ellensburg.” Miller said. 

Monica explained that being in her position as gallery one director, she and the department believe that the community havig access to the arts is important. 

“We believe that the arts are important,” Miller said. “We also support artists and I think that any artist would tell you that their experiences in art as a child were critical to the development of their professional artists lives.” 

Miller said she is hopeful that she will see the benefits of the proclamation ecourage people to integrate creativity into education as well as their daily lives in order to build better communities.

Miller was responsible for bringing up the idea of Arts Education Month. Miller said she approached the Ellensburg Arts Commission with the idea of making it happen and was hopeful that they would run with it. Millser said the Arts Commiison worked with staff to draft the proclamation based off of the state’s proclamation made last year by Gov. Jay Inslee stating that May is Arts Education Month in Washington.  

According to Miller, a lot of the wording in the proclamation was borrowed from Gov. Inslees proclamation from last year. Along with the wording, many of the values also stated in Gov. Inslees proclamation followed in Mayor Lillquists proclamation for Ellensburg.

“I’m hoping that it becomes an annual statement that the arts are valued here in Ellensburg.” Monica said. 

Miller explained what she hopes the ultimate outcome for this proclamation will be.

“I hear it all the time that there’s not a lot of opportunities for youth and a lot of things for families to do in Ellensburg,” Miller said. “We want to help build and support that and arts can be an avenue for that, then we’ll be better for it.”

Cassandra Town who is the President of the Robert B. McMillen foundation as well as a volunteer on the Ellensburg Arts Commision said she is very thankful for this proclamation being put into place. 

“For me that was a total bonus that they were willing to issue that proclamation,” Town said.

Town explained that the new proclamation will help Ellensbrug in many different aspects involving the arts. Town explained that the Arts Commision is currently working on the first strategic plan for the city of Ellensburg to work closely with the school district to ensure that education of the arts is available to students and the community. 

Town said they are working closely with the Arts Leadership team which consists of 20 to 30 key stakeholders within the community to help design and implement their strategic plan for the comunity. 

“We want a creative district, we want artists taken care of, we want maybe live workspaces for artists, we want maybe a performing arts center. All of that kind of stuff.” Town said. 

Town said that the arts are important to the community as a whole and not just in the education system.

“I feel like if there was an issue or a problem, I really feel like if we all just viewed it through an artistic lens, it would be the best way to go because it’d be inclusive, it’d be diverse,” Town said.

Town also said that although the arts may be misunderstood to some, they play an important role in day to day life. She said that the pandemic opened peoples eyes to this. 

“Think of all the ways we survived that, it was through the arts in my opinion,” Town said. “You had concerts, plays released, you had people doing classes online that were the arts because people needed an outlet, a way to communicate, a way to bond, a way to feel like we’re in a community even if we weren’t personally there. I feel like that’s the benefit.” 

Town said one of the most important aspects of this proclamation is how it will help benefit those who are learning in school. She said that tough subjects that have a lot of data can benefit from utilizing the arts. Town said that students dressing up for history class or going to a museum or learning with music is a great way to anchor those student’s learnings with the subject.

“You can’t just be facts, figures, rote learning,” Town said. “You need movement, you need music, you need all of that. So I felt like that’s why it’s important to make the proclamation to bring awareness and maybe help people want to dig deeper into the ‘why’ for themselves.”