Jamie Speak Wooten knew exactly what she wanted to accomplish when she founded Arts Inspired Network Inc. about three years ago in Olathe.
As she explained, “We wanted to provide scholarship and grant opportunities for Olathe students, including homeless and those from low-income families, to experience the arts — dance and theater —regardless of financial challenges in their personal lives.”
Furthermore, Wooten said, “We want to inspire them through their involvement with artists, schools and arts organizations in our community. I don’t want a student to be deprived of an opportunity to enjoy the arts experience because of cost. Training in any facet of the arts can be expensive for families.”
To reach those students, the nonprofit Arts Inspired Network is partnering with the Olathe Public School District development office and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City—Olathe Unit to provide arts education. Wooten said her organization then works with other arts groups and businesses in Olathe to provide scholarships so the children can attend summer camps.”
During the Boys & Girls Clubs 2016 summer camp, Wooten’s organization provided dance lessons. “We had teachers and student interns teaching dance to youngsters of all ages,” she said. “We brought in different teachers to teach the techniques of each dance style offered during the camp.”
Lessons were held for two weeks during the seven-week camp held in the gym at the Boys & Girls Club at 520 S. Harrison in Olathe. The sessions were alternated by age groups. Children received gold medals in recognition of their accomplishments.
Charisma Hampton, director of the Olathe Club, was pleased with the results of the arts program.
“The kids, all ages, liked it and the parents were happy with the way it was done,” Hampton said. “In fact, it was so successful we asked Jamie to give lessons every other week during to fall and winter in the club’s gym. We’ve had 12 to 15 kids for each session.”
Wooten’s association with the Olathe school district began at a meeting a year ago with Heather Schoonover, community liaison with the district’s development office. “We held an Arts Enrichment afternoon for Olathe students, homeless and from low-income families, to educate them in dance and theater,” she said.
“Our organization provided instructors and programming for the day and the school district provided the location and snacks,” Wooten said. “It was planned so parents could attend school conferences while we worked with the students. It’s been a good partnership that’s benefitted needy students and pleased their parents.”
The organization said another Arts Enrichment event is scheduled for this fall.
Wooten said her organization works with the school system to maintain the students’ privacy and to obtain and provide resources for them to attend camps sponsored by arts organizations. In 2016, Arts Inspired Network raised about $3,000 to help children attend camps.
“We are a small group, with a big heart, spreading arts inspiration to our community,” she said.
Wooten has been dancing most of her life. She grew up in Neosho Mo., singing, dancing and playing the piano with her training focused on dancing. She attended Missouri State University and following graduation was on a year-long national and international tour. That was followed by more dancing, choreography and teaching.
She and her husband, Don Wooten, moved to Olathe in 2000 from Columbus Ohio. “We immediately looked for a performing arts center and found Culture House,” she said. Their children took classes there and she served as a parent volunteer and on the staffs of several art studios.
“Our sons, James and Jordan, are involved with the arts in several capacities and our daughter, Jenna, is a senior at Olathe East. She is a competitive dancer and active in our organization,” she said.
Arts Inspired Network
For more information: call 913-906-9970; or firstname.lastname@example.org.