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Any Given Child - How the Kennedy Center is Institutionalizing Art Education

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In a 2010 IMB survey of 1,500 CEOS, creativity was forecasted to be the most important leadership trait for upcoming generations.  Yet, classes that nurture and develop creative thinking like fine arts, drama, and music face ever increasing funding challenges. To make matters worse, not all children have equal access to art education. One foundation working to ensure that arts are part of a well-rounded curriculum is the Kennedy Center.  Their Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child program assists communities in expanding art education for grades K-8, with a special emphasis on access and equity for all.


Why Art Education Is Important

The tangible benefits of art warrant further mention, especially as they relate to future achievement. The correlation between art education and positive outcomes abound:

  • The Arts Education Partnership cites studies associating art education with improvments in reading, word fluency, writing, and critical thinking skills.  Students in music classes often perform better on mathematics assessments than those that are not enrolled.
  • The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth study combined four different longitudinal studies on low-income children.  It found that students who had art education were 10 percent more likely to complete a high school calculus course, three times more likely to earn a bachelor's degree, and over twice as likely to aspire to professional careers.  They were also more apt to volunteer and vote than students with low exposure to art.
  • One Philadelphia study on economically disadvantaged preschoolers found that music, dance, and visual art actually reduced their levels of the stress hormone cortisol.


The Ensuring Arts for Any Given Child Program

Since 2009, the Kennedy Center has been helping selected communities build capacity for arts education to help ensure access for all K-8 grade students with its Any Given Child program. A summary of its goals are as follows:

  • Develop and achieve both long- and short-term goals and action steps to initiate and expand arts education in participating communities.
  • Establish infrastructure to maintain what has been put in place.
  • Develop support systems for all professionals involved with the art education program from teachers to administrators.
  • Secure the necessary funding and resources.
  • Collaborate with policymakers to influence art and education policy in school boards and  local governments  so that the gains can be institutionalized.


The Three Phases

  • Phase One:  Strategic Planning - This phase lasts the first year and includes goal setting, assessment of the status of arts education in the selected community, and identification of gaps in current programs and resources.
  • Phase Two:  Implementation - This phase is for years  2-4   and involves implementing the goals and action steps born in phase one.
  • Phase Three:  Sustaining - This phase is for years 5+, in which the community sustains and supports the programs.  The funding agency still visits the sites on a limited basis, and provides remote technical assistance and support for select resources.


What Participants Say

  • "It gives the students the opportunity to grow and grow creatively, because they’re going to grow either way, but we have to make sure they’re growing creatively in a positive direction.”  Mayor Doug Franklin, Warren, Ohio
  • "It has helped the city [of Jacksonville, FL] become a national leader regarding arts education and exposure to the arts.  We've been able to lay a solid foundation of a national model in which all families and children are exposed to the arts."  Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Duval County School Superintendent
  • “Every day I pick up my sword and shield and advocate for dollars to keep arts alive in our schools.  I want to see the arts institutionalized so that by the time one of our students graduates he or she will have a working vocabulary about the arts, a happy memory of a live arts experience, and an interest to support arts in the future.” Ann Tomlins, Fine Arts Coordinator, Tulsa School District


Applying to the Kennedy Center:  Ensuring Arts for Any Given Child Program

Eligible applicants are schools/school districts, nonprofits, the private sector, consortia, academic institutions and local government.  Communities must form a Community Arts Team (CAT) comprised of 25 to 35 local leaders including representatives from: the mayor’s office/local government, the superintendents team within the school district, arts organizations and museums, the business community, philanthropy, communication organizations and higher education.  The CAT must also include a researcher to collect data.  Communities that are selected are required to provide a one-time fee of $25,000 the first year of participation.  Rather than providing monetary awards, the program provides access to resources and consulting services valued at $125,000.  Applications are due by March 31, 2017.


Further Resources

Looking for more private funding to support art programs? Click below for seven additional sources with various deadlines throughout the year.


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 "I believe that creativity will be the currency of the 21st century."

– Gerald Gordon, Ph.D.Tweet: