The preparations were as elaborate as those of a bride getting ready on her wedding day, but I suppose that was in keeping with the theme of this year’s Bodacious Bee (the Royal Wedding – guests were even treated to a photo op with Kate and William, albeit a two-dimensional version!). Besides, as anyone who’s been to the Bee before knows, the costumes are just as important as the spelling! So it was great fun to spend Saturday afternoon at Hair, Heart & Soul salon and spa on Hope Street in Bristol with the women of the two teams from the Guiteras School community as they got into character for their first appearance at the Bristol Warren Education Foundation’s signature annual fundraiser, the Bodacious Bee.
This year, Hair, Heart & Soul salon and spa sponsored the Guiteras Performing Arts Committee spelling team, and Beasties Pet Supply sponsored the Guiteras School spelling team. Hair, Heart & Soul owner Sarah Redman invited both teams and their entourages to her salon to prepare for the event, and graciously spoke with me while she coifed and adorned the women. She says she was thrilled when Cheryl Burns, a founding member of the Guiteras Performing Arts Committee, approached her earlier this year and asked if she’d consider sponsoring the group’s spelling team. Sarah says she was looking for a meaningful way to support the BWEF fundraiser, and, feeling a connection to the arts because of the theatrical nature of the hair-and-makeup business, she was particularly happy to sponsor a team with an arts focus.
The Guiteras Performing Arts Committee (GPAC) is a newly-formed group of parents who are working together with teachers to strengthen arts education and encourage arts integration at Guiteras School. The group’s principal endeavor this year is their upcoming production of “Seussical, Jr.”, currently in rehearsals and scheduled to open in early May. The musical is an opportunity for the elementary students at Guiteras School to experience a theater production from the inside, from auditions through rehearsals to performance. These parents and teachers have been working hard on this effort, and Saturday’s festivity was a chance for them to have some fun and get ready to introduce themselves to the wider community. Susan Winterbottom, music teacher at Guiteras School and member of the GPAC spelling team, was patiently being transformed into “the Queen Mum” in one salon chair, while Caroline Marino, enthusiastic GPAC member and Guiteras parent, waited to be turned into “Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall”. And Cheryl Burns, dance company manager at Island Moving Co. and proud mother of two Guiteras students, was having her hair curled while a wedding dress hung in a garment bag nearby, ready for her to assume her role as “Princess Kate”. In a nod to their upcoming production, the team members’ costumes each included a Seussical-inspired accessory: Princess Kate carried a beribboned scepter sporting Horton himself, the Queen Mum wore a decidedly Cat in the Hat-ish topper, and Camilla’s millinery was an eye-catching delight filled with clovers, a Lorax, and a colorful sign advertising the spring play.
Not to be outdone, the members of the Guiteras School spelling team dressed as royalty, too. Christine Hughes, district numeracy coach and Guiteras parent, donned a red wig to become “Fergie, Duchess of York” while Sarah Thurber, Guiteras speech pathologist (and parent) went as her daughter, “Princess Eugenie”. And Martha Flora, also a Guiteras parent, had the most fun being transformed into British pop-royalty “Posh Spice”, complete with oversize sunglasses and (pretend) baby bump. She even “gave birth” during the Bee and spent the rest of the night showing off her little bundle of joy (no worries, it was a darling dolly)!
On Saturday afternoon I also had the chance to speak with Erin Meyer, owner of Beasties Pet Supply on Metacom Avenue in Warren and sponsor of the Guiteras School spelling team, who was getting some fierce eye makeup applied to match her snakeskin mini. Like Sarah, she was thrilled to be able to support the fundraising event, having seen first-hand how past BWEF grants have enriched the educational experience at her children’s school.
The Bristol Warren Education Foundation funds Enrichment Grants for Educational Excellence at all six of our district public schools; to learn more visit their website.
But both women also appreciate the fact that supporting the event is good for business, too. As Silver Sponsors, they made a financial donation to the BWEF, and they also donated gift certificates to be given out at the Bee. In return, the business owners got to take advantage of an opportunity to target their marketing and attract new customers. Sarah is particularly excited about the timing, since she’s poised to open the spa and bride’s room on the 2nd and 3rd floors of her building at 407 Hope Street (scheduled to open this week), after a nearly year-long renovation. Sponsoring a spelling team and attending the Bee gave her a chance to talk with potential customers about her salon’s expansion.
And partnering with the Guiteras Performing Arts Committee is a bonus for Sarah, a way to indicate to employees and customers that her business values a creative community. For the GPAC, the partnership enabled them to support the grant-writing efforts at Guiteras School, and it also gave them the chance to introduce their ambitious new arts group to the wider community. It’s a win-win for both groups, and for the children, too. “And we get to show our little creative side, too” Sarah says with a smile. She attended the event as a member of the GPAC team’s entourage, glamorously dressed and with her hair creatively sculpted into an elegant hat!
View more photos of the fabulous costumes seen at the Bodacious Bee 2012 on the Bristol Warren Education Foundation’s Facebook page!
The partnership between Hair, Heart & Soul and the Guiteras Performing Arts Committee is an example of a larger trend. More local examples of partnerships between businesses and the arts community are easy to find:
●DeWolf Tavern in Bristol has partnered with both Linden Place and Blithewold Mansion several times to offer a prix fixe menu for concertgoers attending their events.
●The People’s Credit Union and Viking Tours are among the many sponsors of the upcoming Art Night Gallery & Open Studio Tours in Bristol and Warren.
●The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts recently announced a $10,000 commitment from Bank of America for RISCA’s Big Yellow School Bus program, an initiative that helps facilitate field trips for RI schoolchildren to theaters, museums, and concert halls across the state.
and the pARTnership movement is growing, as more businesses recognize that partnering with the arts can build their competitive advantage. When businesses partner with the arts, they become part of the creative culture that strengthens communities, enriches education, creates jobs, attracts new businesses, draws tourism dollars, and creates an environment that attracts skilled and educated workers. Partnering with the arts can also help businesses build market share and attract new customers.* Recognizing the potential of this trend, earlier this year Americans for the Arts launched a new initiative, The pARTnership Movement, designed to deepen understanding and encourage expansion of mutually beneficial partnerships between arts groups and businesses. The pARTnership Movement offers a wealth of information and support on their website; it’s well worth a look for businesses, arts groups, and anyone interested in encouraging more win-win collaborations in our community!