Letter from Montana Arts Council

January 29, 2014

President’s Council on the Arts and Humanities
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 526
Washington, DC 20506

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am pleased to write this letter in support of the MAPS Media Institute in Hamilton, Montana for the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards. The Montana Arts Council has been a proud supporter of the MAPS Media Institute for many years through our funding programs, including our Artists in Schools and Communities grant. The MAPS Media Institute is one of the programs we hold up as an example for others to follow when looking for models of outstanding arts learning programs for youth.

Montana is a state with two and one-half times as many cows as people, and in our many small, rural communities, opportunities to engage in meaningful learning beyond athletics in the after school hours can be few and far between. Because of the large size and small population of our state, we consider most of the youth here to be underserved, living in geographically isolated areas of the state where they have little access to quality arts programming. Ravalli County, where MAPS Media Institute makes its home, is one such area. MAPS draws its students from five rural high schools in Ravalli County, offering students a rich after school curriculum in the media arts, with classes in design, filmmaking, music and cyber skills. All classes are offered free of charge to the students, who would no doubt have to travel a great distance and likely pay a great deal of money to get the benefits of the experience that MAPS is offering them right there in tiny Ravalli County.

One of the strengths of the MAPS program is its focus on developing youth leadership skills. MAPS founder Peter Rosten believes in preparing students for the future by assigning them hands-on, real-life projects. MAPS students produce public service announcements for local broadcast on Montana stations, and some of the work has won local Emmy awards. The students also produce a MAPS film festival each year showcasing their work. MAPS puts students into leadership roles on film and media projects and gives students a great deal of responsibility in the creative process, helping them hone the problem solving, communication and management skills that will be transferable to the workplace or higher education setting beyond high school.

Peter Rosten is an inspiration, with his boundless energy and enthusiasm, coupled with his commitment to the youth of Ravalli County evident in the continued growth and success of MAPS over the years. I suspect we will soon see MAPS graduates out in the world enjoying great success in film and media arts, and in many other career fields, because of the springboard that MAPS offered them in their high school years. The Montana Arts Council would be thrilled to see the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards shine a spotlight on this outstanding youth arts program.

Warm regards,

Arlynn Fishbaugh,
Executive Director