Afternoon Snack

A local arts program provides fun for kids after school.

The eternal question: What to do with kids after school? Latchkeys or not, at-risk or not, the block of time between exiting the schoolyard in the late afternoon and when mom and dad come home after work has been a thorny issue since day one. The folks at the Totally Cool, Totally Art program, sponsored by the Austin City Council's Social Fabric Initiative and the Dougherty Arts School, have arrived at a novel solution that not only gives kids ages 12-17 somewhere to go and something to do during their afterschool downtime, but fosters a sense of creativity and community not easily found elsewhere.

Taught by UT filmmakers Jacqueline Passmore and Michael Connor (who also works the occasional freelance gig for this publication), TCTA offers kids a chance to learn about and then create their own short films in such various media as computer graphics, stop-motion animation, painting, and photography. The resulting works run the gamut from witty anti-drug PSAs to experimental animations that bring to mind pint-sized Buñuelitos.

"A lot of the kids didn't realize that you could do this for a living," says Passmore, who notes that much of the work stemming from the class is far more mature than either she or Connor expected. "I mentioned to them that I had once taken a course that involved watching a full season of The Simpsons, and they were like 'Cooool!' There's obviously a few that have already made up their mind to go into filmmaking from this. The quality of work was really just amazing."

The Young Artists Spring Exhibition will be held Friday, Feb. 8, 6-7:30pm at the Parque Zaragoza Recreation Center (2608 Gonzales). Admission is free and open to the public.

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Jacqueline Passmore, Michael Connor, Totally Cool, Totally Art, Austin City Council's Social Fabric Initiative, Dougherty Arts School

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