Beginning in Fall 2016, the Erie Philharmonic will visit classrooms at St. Ben's Child Development Center in our first ever Long Term Residency.  Instead of reaching students just a few times a year as done in the past, teaching artist Sarah Lee will visit the center 60 times between August and February.

This long-term residency has many goals, but the main mission is to create positive musical experiences that promote early music appreciation and early literacy skills in young students, preparing them for success in school and beyond. Strengthening this emphasis on continued arts infusion, the Philharmonic aims to bring music into pre-kindergarten classes in order to aid language and literacy development as well as organizing and applying knowledge through creative thinking.

The project is funded through the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. “The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is pleased to approve Erie Philharmonic’s long term residency grant,” said Philip Horn, PCA executive director. “This collaboration will bring teaching artists and the creative process into unique partnerships with educators, schools and non-profit community organizations benefiting our schools and student learning.”

Teaching Artist Sarah Lee has led the Philharmonic’s outreach and education programs previously, so this is a natural step forward to reach more students with an expansive curriculum. Lee has spent the summer creating lessons that focus on rhythm, movement, singing, and instrument identification, all centered on literacy, exploration, and fine motor skills. “We will work to achieve a series of standard-based goals. This 20-week, 60-day residency will reach over 60 students and include visiting guest artists from the Philharmonic as well as a trip to see the orchestra perform live in the historic Warner Theatre,” says Lee, also a musician with the Philharmonic. The program also includes professional development on arts infusion for all teachers at the center.

Executive Director Steve Weiser is excited to look to the future and ensure the Philharmonic is truly living their mission. “I’m honored that the PA Council on the Arts supports our residency at St. Benedict. The Philharmonic has been doing similar but smaller programs there for a few years, but this is significantly larger and will carry a greater long-lasting impact for the students at St. Ben’s,” Weiser said. “I take this program as a vote of confidence from the state – we know we are doing great things, but we are also one of the first to receive this type of funding directly from the state.”




The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) is a state agency in the Office of the Governor. Created in 1966, the PCA is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary. The Council’s mission is to foster the excellence, diversity, and vitality of the arts in Pennsylvania, and to broaden the availability and appreciation of those arts throughout the commonwealth. Support for education is a PCA priority. The PCA’s Arts in Education Division assists hundreds of Pennsylvania schools to support curriculum, enrich the important work of arts educators, and provide opportunities for students to discover and develop their creative skills and abilities through teaching artist residencies. The Division and its partners also place artists in residencies in community-based settings. Learn more at www.arts.pa.gov and www.facebook.com/Pennsylvaniacouncilonthearts.