The Houston Independent School District and the City of Houston’s Arts Access Initiative joined forces Tuesday to announce a new partnership that will provide additional arts education programs at 10 elementary schools and one middle school.[photoshelter-gallery g_id=”G0000l7tBTU_Xv3c” g_name=”20150512-KashmereES” width=”600″ f_fullscreen=”t” bgtrans=”t” pho_credit=”iptc” twoup=”f” f_bbar=”t” f_bbarbig=”f” fsvis=”f” f_show_caption=”t” crop=”f” f_enable_embed_btn=”t” f_htmllinks=”t” f_l=”t” f_send_to_friend_btn=”f” f_show_slidenum=”t” f_topbar=”f” f_show_watermark=”t” img_title=”casc” linkdest=”c” trans=”xfade” target=”_self” tbs=”5000″ f_link=”t” f_smooth=”f” f_mtrx=”t” f_ap=”t” f_up=”f” height=”400″ btype=”old” bcolor=”#CCCCCC” ]
The partnership will directly connect schools to area arts organizations, providing 7,000 students with hands-on, arts-related experiences both in and out of the classroom. In addition to workshops and programs offered at the school, students also will have the opportunity to see performances and visit museums and arts venues.
“There is no separation between academics and artistic learning,” said Dan Gohl, HISD Special Assistant to Superintendent. “We want to make sure our students’ lives are not filled with standardized testing, reports, or just homework. In order for them to achieve greatness, our students must learn and create.”
The Arts Access Initiative, led by Young Audiences of Houston, is a broad-based coalition of HISD leaders, city officials, arts and cultural organizations, businesses and philanthropists, all working to ensure children have equal access to and the opportunity to benefit from the arts.
The pilot program is being funded through a three-year $370,000 grant from the Houston Endowment, as well as additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the national office of Young Audiences. The program will begin this fall at Atherton, Benbrook, Eliot, Hartsfield, Hines-Caldwell, Kashmere Gardens, Memorial, Mitchell, Scarborough, and Whittier elementary schools, as well as Hamilton Middle School.
Students at these schools will participate in creative learning programs in dance, theatre, and visual arts. Additionally, core-content teachers at each pilot school will attend art professional development workshops to learn how to successfully integrate arts into their curriculum. The Arts Access Initiative also will work with each campus to embed arts education into their school improvement plan.
During the 2013-2014 school year, the district worked with the Arts Access Initiative to conduct a study on arts access in all K-8 HISD campuses. The study surveyed nearly 200 K-8 principals and 2,000 teachers. Through its research, the Arts Access Initiative helped HISD form three goals for arts access education – equity, impact, and sustainability.
“As a parent and a member of the school board, I know this partnership will impact our children in ways that will stand for years,” said HISD Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones. “This is a very valuable tool that our schools need. It will help to create an equalizer for those kids who are given access to the arts and for those who just don’t have it.”