Superintendent's Memo #035-10

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

Department of Education

February 12, 2010

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: MINDS WIDE OPEN - Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts

From March 1 to June 30, 2010, Virginia will celebrate women in the arts. There will be hundreds of performances, exhibitions, and films by and about women artists, both contemporary and historical, marketed under the name of MINDS WIDE OPEN: Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts. This statewide initiative is an unprecedented collaboration of hundreds of artists and cultural organizations located in every corner of the Commonwealth. The purpose is to showcase the breadth and diversity of the arts across Virginia. Currently, over 1,750 arts events are listed on the MINDS WIDE OPEN: Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts calendar with over a dozen new listings being added daily. Every Virginia artist, cultural organization, history museum, library, college and university has been invited to participate in the statewide celebration.

Every living First Lady of Virginia is an Honorary Chair of MINDS WIDE OPEN, and First Lady Maureen McDonnell has been invited to join the group now that Governor Robert McDonnell has taken office.

Here are a few examples of programs on the MINDS WIDE OPEN calendar that may interest your students.

In Northern Virginia, the Girls + Math + Science = Success conference is inviting artists and arts organizations to deliver presentations on how their work re-enforces learning in mathematics, science, and technology. The conference will also include a display of student artwork and a performance by the Prince William Youth Orchestras.

The Poetry of Music program in Fairfax County begins with poems created in English classes that become the basis of an original choral composition commissioned by the Fairfax Choral Society. In 2010, the Choral Society will present 150 youth voices performing new works by women composers.

In Loudoun County, “Women of the Guitar” will be the theme of the Loudoun County Public Schools Guitar Ensemble Festival. This concert will feature classical guitar music by women composers and a performance by the Ashburn Girls Guitar Ensemble.

This statewide celebration is an excellent opportunity for K-12 educators to build on these special arts events taking place in communities across Virginia by:

I invite you and your schools to join in the statewide celebration of women in the arts. For additional information, please visit; or contact Cheryle C. Gardner, specialist for fine arts, by e-mail at or by telephone at (804) 225-2881.