Nature of the Arts

May 12, 2020

The show must go on

Imagine working for months and finally the day arrives. Students and teachers from 2 middle schools and 5 elementary schools converge on the district high school to set up and ready for the once every four years arts extravaganza. There are stacks of artwork, rolls of paper and masking tape, music stands and instruments to put in place. Older students and teachers set up all day long and just before the doors open to the public which traditionally has about 4,000 community members attend the pandemic prevents the celebration to proceed.

Maybe you and your school district have a similar story. If so, please share! Below is MSAD#40’s story which was shared by elementary art teacher, Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader Anthony Lufkin and is found on the Nature of the Arts 2020 Virtual show website. 

We are very sorry that we couldn’t host everyone. There was a lot of work and effort that went into this show. The students worked hard on all of their art– drawing, painting, sculpting, singing, acting, and more– and we really wanted to showcase their hard work. The teachers also worked hard– teaching drawing, painting, sculpting, singing, acting, labeling the artwork, getting everything together and presented in the building– and we really wanted to showcase their efforts as well. We also wanted to welcome everyone to the Empty Bowl Supper, showcasing student-made bowls with proceeds going to local food pantries. (A very big thank you to everyone who donated food for the supper!)

We also know that this isn’t the ideal format for this virtual show, but we couldn’t foresee all of what was to come, and we did need to take the artwork down. Unfortunately, we do not have pictures of each individual piece of art. We also do not have recordings of all the music and drama we had planned to perform that evening. We do have a bit of the jazz band, who performed while high school students were viewing the show.

To view the artwork, see the different pages dedicated to the different areas of the show:


In 1984, arts educators in the RSU 40 district worked together to create a celebration of the arts that brought together all ages of students to display and recognize the developmental processes being taught through the arts and the amazing abilities of the students in our district. This comprehensive display of work has continued to happen every four years since then. Thirty-six years later, it is happening again. While there has been a slight hiatus since the last show in 2012, we are excited to bring it back to celebrate and recognize the amazing work our students continue to do. While it may have started relatively modest, now in its 9th year, it has grown and is an impressive body of work not to be missed. The RSU 40 arts teachers, students from all grade levels, and countless volunteers have been working hard to create this impressive exhibit.


This year the program is dedicated to long time RSU 40 Arts educators, Ken Martin and Sybil Wentworth. Both have been influential educators that have played important roles in the development and advocation of the RSU 40 arts that have helped lay the groundwork for the continuation and growth of these important developmental content areas. They not only influenced the RSU 40 arts curriculum, but have also inspired students and given them the tools to find or create their own success in art and in life.


For one night only, every student across the five elementary schools, middle school students, and students enrolled in high school art classes will have their work displayed at Medomak Valley High School. With representation from all 8 schools within our district, the display represents the vast array of mediums, skills, and techniques that students are developing progressively through the stages of our district’s art curriculum. In addition to this grand display of artwork, there will be performances by district music and drama students throughout the afternoon and evening. Ensembles will include K-1 and 2-3 classroom music students, elementary chorus, middle and high school chorus, elementary band, middle school band, high school band, as well as middle and high school drama performances.

This impressive display helps to highlight and represent the critical skills students are gaining through their participation in the arts. The processes that help develop innovative concepts and application, the metacognition of critique and visual thinking skills, and the development of abilities in a wide range of mediums are just part of what can be seen on display. This recognition of student work not only celebrates student achievements, but also highlights the intrinsic value of art.

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