Artists in Residence (AIR) has been putting artists in classrooms for nearly 20 years. The concept of introducing professional artists into classrooms was initiated by Robin Larsen (the founder of New Hope Arts Center) as part of the "Celebrate the Arts in Bucks County" events.
During the art celebration days Robin Larsen arranged for professional visual and performing artists from the community, including sculptor Yvonne Love, to visit the New Hope-Solebury High school and engage the students in various activities. At that time, there was merely an art cart, so volunteers, parents and community members Robin Elliott and Yvonne Love organized a continuation of the art celebration days by connecting artists with classes in the school.
That eventually led to Elliott and Love founding AIR in 1998, with several key volunteers; Susan Brussock, Anne Schwantes, Sandy Vallely, Brad Elliott, KC Reinard, Jackie Lomax, Leigh Smith and Robin Larsen. They began with nine local artists who worked directly in the classrooms of New Hope- Solebury Elementary and the Solebury School to integrate the arts into the curriculum, while introducing the students to the role of artists in their own community. Since these arts programs were successful in enhancing the educational experience for the students, they eventually expanded into additional schools in Bucks and Hunterdon Counties.
In the Fall of 2009 one of the original participating AIR artists, Terri Herring, took the helm of AIR as Director. At that time Terri and new board member, Amy Winston, now the Director of Charitable Giving, developed AIR's charitable arm. Through AIR's administrative fees along with fundraising efforts, AIR began to be able to subsidize schools who otherwise could not afford to have the opportunity of AIR's participating artists visit the schools to offer their programs.
This ability to donate arts programming to an underserved audience has expanded yearly as AIR maintains its efforts to transform the lives of these children by nurturing their creativity and talents through AIR's participating artists and their programs.
Today, AIR, also known as Bucks AIR, offers innovative arts programming for over 5000 students in nearly 50 schools throughout Bucks County and surrounding communities. Several of the original participating artists continue to work with AIR as they preserve and share the artistic heritage of the Bucks County region.