The Arts Access Initiative was launched in August of 2015 as a way to provide all students in HISD with equal access to a high quality arts education. At that time, HISD was selected by the John F. Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts to serve as the 19th site for their national arts education program.
For the past three school years, the pilot program has utilized resources from the district, Houston arts organizations, the City of Houston, and the Kennedy Center to increase arts opportunities for thousands of HISD students in dozens of schools. Young Audiences also provided invaluable support by acting as the backbone of the organization’s pilot phase. These first three years were funded through the generosity of the Houston Endowment, Inc., and the Powell Foundation.
What began with 11 schools in the first year has grown to 28,000 students in 44 schools for the current year, as well as some 40 partner arts organizations.
Now that the pilot program is coming to an end with the close of the school year, AAI is undergoing an evaluation of the pilot phase in order to determine the way forward. At a Community Convening on Feb. 9 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the ad-hoc team tasked with planning implementation presented their recommendations to the AAI collective for feedback.
The meeting was attended by HISD Fine Arts Director Wenden Sanders and team, as well as AAI Director Deborah Lugo and members of the leadership and steering committees.
AAI members recapped two recent strategy meetings and outlined their proposed path for the future, which included two main points:
- Establish a small representative leadership committee to make strategic decisions for the collective
- Clarify independence and reporting/supporting structure for AAI directorship
The meeting closed with many community members reiterating their commitment to HISD students and the city as a whole, as well as the continued need for robust arts programing at every HISD school.