About the Butler Community Arts School

BCAS Mission, Vision, Values

The Butler Community Arts School, an initiative of the Jordan College of the Arts, opened its doors to the community in September 2002. The mission of Butler Community Arts School at Butler University is to foster and promote broad access to high quality arts instruction designed to meet community needs, while developing civic-mindedness in university students. Compared to pre-college programs at other universities, BCAS is distinctive in holding over 60 percent of its class offerings at off-campus community sites and in utilizing college students as primary instructors.

We Believe

  • In the importance of providing high quality, affordable instruction in music, dance, theatre and visual art to Indianapolis and the surrounding area.
  • In the necessity of exposure to and participation in the arts regardless of age, race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, level of ability, or economic status.
  • In the vital provision of opportunities for Butler University students majoring in the arts to teach and interact with the community in order to better prepare them for careers as artists and teachers, and for their lives as citizens.

Community Partnerships

In line with its strategic directive to help Butler students discover a life of purpose and a greater sense of civic-mindedness, the university established the Butler Community Arts School (BCAS) as an arts education and outreach program. BCAS has active, year-round collaborative relationships with fifteen community partners, including United Way agencies; public, private and charter schools; community centers; and the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra. These partnerships include after school lessons (private and group) at community sites, joint performances and projects, and ongoing collaboration to promote arts education to constituent families.

Our long-term community partnerships have been successful due to a strong mutual commitment: 1) To serve youth in meaningful, substantial ways; 2) To provide high quality instruction with clear learning objectives; 3) To nurture the artistic and creative abilities of all children.

To explore a partnership with your organization, please contact the BCAS director, Karen Thickstun, at BCAS@butler.edu.

Meet the Director

Lauren Shelton is the new Director of the Butler Community Arts School. Mrs. Shelton has a strong background in arts education and arts management. She has been a classroom teacher, music director for the San Diego Children’s Choir and Girl Scouts San Diego, and began the Community Opus Project with the San Diego Youth Symphony in 2010. Prior to arriving at Butler University, Mrs. Shelton implemented the return of the visual and performing arts to the Chula Vista Elementary School District using the district’s investment of $18 million dollars to employ 94 arts teachers. She also served as faculty for the Longy School of Music of Bard College Masters of Arts in Teaching program at the Los Angeles Campus. Lauren Shelton holds a California Teaching Credential, California Administrative Credential, and completed her Masters in Educational Leadership with a focus on Arts Integration and Common Core Standards Implementation with honors. In June 2015 she was a recipient of the Yale School of Music Distinguished Educator of the Year Award and most recently received the Outstanding Administrator Award from the California Music Educators Association at the state and local level. Mrs. Shelton currently serves on the Board of Directors for El Sistema USA, which supports a nation-wide alliance of El Sistema inspired organizations.

BCAS programs are provided with support from: Christel DeHaan Family Foundation; F.R.Hensel Fund for Fine Arts, Music, and Education, a fund of The Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate; the Indiana Arts Commission, a state agency; and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.