School districts in 14 cities are expanding arts education by partnering with local groups. This is a solution to providing K-12 arts education while maintaining budget limits.The initiative is run by The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The “Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child” program began with Sacramento in 2009, and officials said it has quickly expanded to now reach 1 million students this year.
When Sacramento launched the effort in the midst of the Great Recession, the city’s elementary schools had almost no arts teachers left, said Erika Kraft of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. Only 17 percent of students had any exposure to the arts in school. Now all 35,000 students attend a live performance every year, and the city is looking to expand pilot projects with teaching artists and arts integration with other subjects.
Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser said the program could expand to include 50 to 75 school systems over the next decade with help from a new $1 million endowment from the Newman’s Own Foundation announced this month.
“I’m actually convinced the reason why it’s growing so fast is that it just makes sense. It really does work,” Kaiser told educators and arts leaders Wednesday. “We’ll be able to show with numbers that this actually is the way to do arts education in a resource-constrained world.”
Candy Schneider, who helped lead the effort in Las Vegas since 2010, said it’s expanding from a pilot project to serve all the K-8 schools in the nation’s fifth largest school district. The Las Vegas Philharmonic and the Las Vegas Ballet are helping to fund and support the effort to expose all students to the arts with federal grants and private donations. Las Vegas schools also received a nearly $900,000 three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand training in arts integration. Teachers also travel to the Kennedy Center in Washington each summer for training.
The combined effort has eliminated competition among various arts groups for education funding, said Schneider, who is vice president of education at the new Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas.
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