Fostering the Arts program equalizes children

Jillian McGehee/Contributing Writer Published March 19, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.
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Matt Johnson/Contributing Photographer

Anna Bowman, director of Doxa Dance Academy in Alexander, shares her artistic talents with foster children through the studio’s Fostering the Arts program, calling the arts the equalizer between all children as they are able to freely express themselves without judgment.

Anna Bowman believes in the transformative power of the arts and is sharing her passion with some of the most vulnerable members of the community — foster children.

Bowman, a mother of four, is director of Doxa Dance Academy in Alexander, which is a Christian-

based organization that offers affordable arts classes, from dance to piano, in a family-friend atmosphere, as stated on the academy’s website. About two years ago, the organization started reaching out to a group of foster children at Second Chance Ranch in Bryant, Bowman said, and Fostering the Arts was established.

It started with free lessons for the Second Chance Ranch’s girls house.

“They loved it so much that they wanted to continue through the school year and be part of our performance,” Bowman said. “Of course, we were overjoyed and wanted to make sure that we made that happen for them.”

Costs were covered as much as possible by the organization, but to meet the cost of recital costumes and other needs, Bowman reached out for help on Facebook.

“Each plea we put out there was met by very sweet individuals who invested in these young women,” she said.

“We then realized that we could do so much more to reach kids in need and opened our classes up to any child in foster care. Our purpose is to provide scholarships to arts-based programs for children in the foster-care system and children from lower-income families.”

The mission of Fostering the Arts, Bowman said, is to provide opportunities for orphans and at-risk children “to experience the life-changing

influences of the arts by discovering their own creative potential in a noncompetitive environment.”

Fostering the Arts removes the financial obstacles for children in the foster-care system and children from low-income families, Bowman

said, noting that arts education can bring healing to children who have experienced trauma in their lives.

“It provides a sense of worth and accomplishment. Almost every one of our foster children has started [taking] classes and made the statement, ‘I’ll take the class, but I do not want to perform.’ Each one of them ends up deciding to perform and is so proud of their accomplishments. Art is the great equalizer. It doesn’t matter what your background is or where you came from. All of us can appreciate artistic expression and benefit from it for the rest of our lives.”

Fostering the Arts not only provides scholarships to children in need at its facility.

“We are committed to providing scholarships to virtually any arts-based program in central Arkansas and beyond,” Bowman said.

The organization raised $7,000 at its first fundraiser, Sweet Arts, held last month. An artisan-market event is in the plans next, Bowman said.

“Our passion is to raise money for more scholarships, but we also want to promote local businesses and local artists. If we can use the platform that God is giving us to help someone else’s business, we will absolutely do it,” she said. “We love the small-business owners in Saline County and the surrounding area. It takes a lot of courage, positivity and leaps of faith to go into business for yourself. We want to grow the arts community and support the efforts of local artists. Each of our events will pair those passions.”

Bowman has danced since she was 5 years old. She

minored in dance at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and most recently obtained a certificate in the

Cecchetti Ballet Method from the Cecchetti Council of America. At the studio, she is the primary dance and acro teacher, as well as the art teacher.

“We have an amazing staff of teachers in all areas, though, who love the kids and love the vision of reaching those less fortunate,” Bowman said.

Bowman’s primary job is caring for her children,

Corley, Cash, Charis and Cedar, whom she home-schools. Her children are a “very big part of our studio,” she noted.

The Bowmans don’t foster, but she suspects fostering or adopting will be in the family’s future.

“I fall in love with each and every student who walks through our doors. They are all so very special to me. I view all of my students as my own children.”

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