The ARTS IN EDUCATION: PART I of a SERIES
The Center for Arts Education Helps New York Get “Arts Smart”
Remember the excitement and satisfaction of molding a ceramic bowl, building a wooden shelf, or playing an instrument in school? Although not every adult has attended an art class, many recall with fondness their arts education and some even attribute their careers to these school experiences. In the future, few students will have these experiences as more schools cut arts education out of the curriculum.
To draw attention to the decline in arts education in New York City public schools, the Center for Arts Education sponsored an ‘Arts Smart New York’ celebration at the Herman Miller National Design Center in Manhattan. Billed as a “friendraiser”, numerous leaders were brought together including CAE Chairman, Laurie M. Tisch; Ballet Hispanico Chairman, Jody Arnhold; the President of the Museum of Modern Art, Agnes Gund; and New York City Council Member, Gale Brewer in support of the arts. Also showing her support for the arts was Legally Blonde star, Laura Bell Bundy.
Hosting the event was WNYC’s Leonard Lopate who commented, “When I was a student, art was a basic part of school. Exposure to it shouldn’t be seen as optional…it’s shocking that we even have to talk like this.” In appreciation of their continued efforts to prevent the arts from fading away in public schools, New York City Council Education Chair, Robert Jackson and New York City Council Cultural Chair, Domenic Recchia received a special thanks from the CAE as honored guests.
In discussing what can be done to help principals incorporate the arts into their schools, Jackson reminded the attendees, “Don’t wait for them to come to you. Organizations need to reach out to the principals to let them know what’s available.” Councilman Domenic Recchia added that many students go to school because they receive acknowledgement and the freedom to express themselves in their art classes. “We have to unite together to send the message that art is for everyone and it keeps children in school,” affirmed Recchia.
Jackson and Recchia were presented with commemorative plaques decorated with glass apples by Antonio Thompson and Ariana Castro – alumni of the CAE’s Career Development Program. Since its inception in 1999, the Career Development Program has matched nearly 400 students with many of the City’s for-profit and nonprofit creative industry organizations. CAE was proud to announce that the Career Guides provided by the CDC will be further enhanced with an interactive website (www.myartscareer.org) that students can access for advice and other resources on pursuing a career related to the arts. A computer station was available during the evening allowing attendees to browse through the new website.
When asked what role art has played in his life, Thompson, who is currently an educational grant writer at Columbia University, asserted, “Without it, I would be totally lost…the arts give you the opportunity to experience different things and to create your own path.”
In view of the evening’s success, Tisch commented, “It was great; I think we made a positive impact on many people.” CAE Executive Director Richard Kessler explained that ‘Arts Smart NY’ was a precursor to a larger movement in support of arts education. “Tonight’s event will lay the foundation for a citywide campaign that we are currently developing that will bring New Yorkers of all stripes together in making quality learning a part of every child’s education in the public school system,” revealed Kessler.#