In my Oct. 5 column, I highlighted the great benefits derived by our kids when the arts are taught in schools. My source was the transcript of a well-produced film short created by Americans for the Arts that was shown at the Indy Arts Council’s “Start with Art” program in September. If you missed my last column, I hope you’ll take time to find it in print or online and give it a quick read.
The facts presented in the film—“Encourage creativity: Teach the arts (facts, figures, action)”—provide a great backdrop for this week’s topic: Indianapolis’ being chosen for the Kennedy Center’s “Any Given Child” program. Since the announcement in early September, I’ve seen some publicity for the program, but not as much as I would expect for such a prestigious honor bestowed on our community.
It’s an extraordinary coup for Indianapolis to have been chosen by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as one of its partner cities for “Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child.”
The program creates a long-range arts education plan for Indianapolis Public Schools students in grades K-8. The plan, tailored to our city’s specific needs, will draw on resources from IPS, the Arts Council of Indianapolis, local arts organizations and the Kennedy Center. Indianapolis is the 18th city to join the program, which started in Sacramento, California, in 2009.
I don’t believe there is any way IPS would be able to provide this type of quality arts education programming without the Any Given Child partnership. The program uses an affordable model to provide the arts programming through the expert consultation services of the Kennedy Center staff and other local and national professionals. This brings access and equity to each student’s arts education.
The Kennedy Center covers the majority of the cost, but the funding model requires a modest local contribution of $25,000 toward the first four years of the program. The local investment is already covered by $30,000 in generous individual contributions collected by United Way of Central Indiana.
The first phase of the program involves a needs assessment and a comprehensive audit of existing arts education resources. This is facilitated by the Kennedy Center staff and consultants, and the results are used to craft a strategy for action. The process, which started in earnest this month, takes about nine months.
The first meeting of the Any Given Child Indy community arts team was held Oct. 9. The team’s work focused on developing surveys to help with the audit and needs assessment. The next step is to fine-tune the work done in the first meeting and then launch the survey process at the end of November.
Phase two will create recommendations to the school district and local arts groups on how to best implement the strategy. The goal is to provide a picture of what local arts education will look like—weaving together existing arts programs within the schools with resources available from community providers and the Kennedy Center to reach every child.
Any Given Child participating cities have reported numerous successes. Some school districts have hired additional teachers or added staff positions. New sources of funding for arts education have been established and communities have expanded arts offerings for students. Participating cities have provided professional learning for classroom teachers, arts specialists and local arts organizations to build their capacity for delivering high-quality arts education to students.
More detailed information about the Any Given Child program and the entire process used to ramp up and produce sustaining results can be found at anygivenchildindy.org.
What an unbelievable opportunity this is for our youth and the community as a whole. Think of the long-term positive impact. It’s time to dream big and reach for the stars on this one. Providing high-quality arts education to IPS K-8 students is just one piece of how we can instill creativity and confidence in our kids so they really believe they can be anything they want to be when they grow up.
It’s a very exciting time. And you can be a significant help in making great things happen for our kids. In IPS and all our area schools, please be an advocate for teaching the arts. The kids win and the entire community wins.•
Morris is publisher of IBJ. His column appears every other week. To comment on this column, send e-mail to [email protected]