Arts & Culture is helping educate Philadelphia’s youth for the jobs of the future.
Studies have shown that instruction in arts and music improves performance across academic subjects, including reading and math, and improves both enthusiasm and class attendance. Researchers at Michigan State University found that exposure to and participation in the arts stimulates creativity and fosters entrepreneurship, crucial skills in an economy that increasingly rewards innovation.
A 2011 article in Psychology Today on the importance of an arts education, Helge W. Wehmeier, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bayer Corporation is quoted:
A good well-rounded education must include the study of both the arts and the sciences. [..] They offer complementary ways of understanding the same object or event... They also teach critical thinking, creativity and curiosity - skills that make for an educated and innovative workforce.
As is W. James McNerney, Chief Executive Officer of Boeing, who states:
The arts inspire innovation by leading us to open our minds and think in new ways about our lives - including the work we do, the way we work, and the customers we serve [...]
Randall L Tobias, Chairman of the Board of Eli Lilly and Company, echoes his colleagues:
The arts foster creativity, and creativity is central to our business strategy.
Despite the clear benefits of an arts education, and the fact that the White House has called for a reinvestment in arts education as a strategy for teaching creativity and driving innovation, lean education budgets have forced many local school districts and principals to reduce or elimnate schools arts, drama and music programs.
To help bridge the gap, our region’s cultural organizations are working to provide area school children with opportunities to participate in cultural learning and be exposed to artistic endeavors. Our museums, theaters, galleries and community centers are the region cultural classroom. Annually, there are approximately 1.7 million visits by school children and more than 30,000 visits are made by school groups to the region’s cultural organizations. Alliance members make an additional 2,700 cultural visits to area schools, bringing culture right into the classroom.
Cultural Alliance Member organizations hold classes in their facilities and place teachers and artists in classrooms throughout the district.
Through their RockREACH program, the Rock School for Dance Education runs a 36 week residency in Title I schools throughout the district. They send faculty to teach dance, ballet, urban tap and jazz dance. For some of these cash-strapped schools, this is their phys-ed program. The Rock School also offers City Dance, a program for promising low income dance students. Students maintain high grades, and in return they receive free instruction at one of the country’s leading dance academies up until the age of 18. How about that for an incentive to graduate?
Another of our members, Philadelphia Young Playwrights sends teaching artists and theater professionals to work with school teachers to develop programs that inspire students’ literacy, learning and creativity. Young Playwrights staff provide classroom playwriting workshops and run in-school mini-festival. One program alumni, Quiara Alegría Hudes, won their 1993 Annual Festival. She’s gone on to be nominated for a Tony for the Broadway musical “In the Heights” and is a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
In the spring of 2013, Spiral Q Puppet Theater, with funding from the NEA, foundation donors and the public, were able to provide the students at West Philadelphia’s Samuel Powel Elementary with art classes at a quarter of what it would have cost the school to run the program. Over the course of the semester, a team of 20 Spiral Q artists and staff worked with nearly 300 Powel students to build puppets inspired by the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huan, the first emperor of China. Students constructed and decorates the puppets in ways that expressed their own personalities, learned about world history and other cultures, and choreographed a performance for the community.
These are just a few examples of how the Cultural Alliance and its members are working to ensure that children throughout the region, not just those in affluent school districts, have access to the opportunities, education and inspiration that culture provides.
Our museums, theaters, galleries and community centers are the region cultural classroom. Cultural Alliance's members are provide area school children with opportunities to participate in cultural learning and be exposed to artistic endeavors. Our museums, theaters, galleries and community centers are the region cultural classroom.