|Photo: Laura Perille|
We have all heard the story: Arts education has suffered from years of neglect and decline in our schools to make room for tested subjects and to balance squeezed school budgets. This trend has played out in many communities across the country and particularly in large urban school districts. Students of color and those from low-income backgrounds have been disproportionately affected by the decline in arts education during the school day.
In recent years, a number of cities have worked to counter this trend by forming coordinated networks of schools, cultural organizations, funders, local governments, and other groups to work in partnership toward high-quality arts education for all young people. These new models have ranged from city-initiated endeavors such as The Creative Advantage in Seattle to enterprises managed by external partners such as Ingenuity in Chicago and Dallas' Big Thought. Boston, too, has been engaged in expanding arts education over the past seven years through an effort known as Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion, or BPS-AE, a mixed private and publicly funded coalition facilitated by my nonprofit organization, EdVestors.
The efforts of these four cities stem from the belief that by investing in young people's creative capital today, we are nurturing the entrepreneurs, inventors, policymakers, and active citizens of tomorrow. While each city is unique, the public-private partnerships involved in this work employ common strategies.
All of them:
- Bring together multiple stakeholders to advance the goals of expanding arts education;
- Use data-based assessments to identify gaps in access and equity, establish measurable public commitments and policies, and track progress;
- Regularly communicate with community members about progress toward goals and funding to encourage community members to advocate for and take ownership of these efforts;
- Invest in the people (families, youths, teachers, teaching-artists) engaged in this work at the deepest level and connect them with others (elected officials, philanthropists, school leadership) to help move the needle; and
- Employ a "both/and" approach that prioritizes increasing the number of in-school, certified arts educators while augmenting arts education through organized partnerships with their own city's rich cultural resources and teaching-artists.
Source: Education Week