What We Do

Snow City Arts’ 10 professional Teaching Artists engage children and young adults in inpatient and outpatient pediatric units at our four partner hospitals through creative writing, media arts, music, theatre, dance and visual arts workshops. Teaching Artists collaborate closely with SCA program leadership and hospital Child Life staff to create and deliver rigorous, standards-based arts curriculum differentiated to serve each child’s individual needs.

Throughout the day, Teaching Artists have unencumbered access to actively engage young patients in bedside workshops, transforming the hospital room into arts studio. When  children are well enough to leave their rooms, they can take advantage of SCA’s Idea Labs – dedicated studios in the pediatric units where the students may work in a medical-free zone without being interrupted by doctors or nurses.

Each Idea Lab is equipped with art supplies, computers loaded with cutting edge music and design programs, green screens for film-making, keyboards, string instruments, video and still cameras, and a small art library. Artists provide one-to-one instruction in these labs or facilitate small group workshops just as a teacher would in a classroom.

In 2019, Snow City Arts delivered standards-based arts learning through 2,678 one-on-one workshops to 1,162 students aged 4-20 in four Chicago-area partner hospitals, including Rush University Children’s Hospital, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Children’s Hospital University of Illinois, and Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital.  Student work was also exhibited across Chicagoland.

All work done at Snow City Arts is guided by three best practices:

1. Student Decision-Making – Snow City Arts restores choice to the hospital environment.  We empower and encourage our students through an arts education experience.

2. Customized, Differentiated Learning – Snow City Arts meets each student where they are. Every workshop created can be modified to meet the needs of a diverse group of learners, accommodating students based on their needs and unique interests.

3. Artistic Process Valued Over Product – Snow City Arts considers the development of the student-mentor relationship and the learning that supports the creation of art to be of primary importance in every interaction.

100,000 children miss school each year in Illinois due to illness. The IL State Board of Education will provide tutors, but only up to 45 minutes of instruction may be provided daily. Snow City arts adheres to national learning standards and the New Illinois Learning Standards. We incorporate the Common Core in Literacy and Math, the Next Generation Science Standards, the National Curriculum for Social Studies, and the recently released National Core Arts Standards. Learning Standards are banded into a set of 1,000 for use by Teaching Artists. Snow City Arts works in close collaboration with The Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services (ODLSS) and the in-hospital teachers.

We utilize six areas of measurement when assessing a student’s work:

1. Creative Decision Making
2. Applying Techniques & Technologies
3. Sense of Self as Artist
4. Making connections
5. Reflection
6. Experimentation

And we evaluate a student’s proficiency with four levels:

1. Exploring
2. Developing
3. Proficient
4. Accomplished

Snow City Arts tracks patient progress and, with parental consent, sends detailed reports and art work to schools so patients can receive academic credit for their instructional time while hospitalized.

Because of Snow City Arts, children in hospitals can receive classroom credit, improved their grades, discover talents and interests that have gone previously untapped, and engage in creative-decision making activities in an environment where little personal choice is available.