21st Century Arts Education
When I was in school, courses in music and art were a regular part of available curriculum. By the time my daughter was in elementary school, music classes were much more difficult to come by. Then one day, she came home and said the school was going to begin offering music courses. A levy had passed, which allowed the district to hire a music teacher.
Now, with additional financial pressures being felt in school districts across the country, many activities and courses which were once considered a given require an additional fee to participate, if they even still exist. Los Angeles Unified School District, for example, has lost 50% of funding for it’s arts program over the last six years.
There might be a glimmer of hope, however. Writing in the LA Times, Marcia Adair states, “Southern California is home to more than 11,000 arts venues, including many well-respected museums, theaters, orchestras, dance and opera companies happy to be involved in education projects.”
She goes on to report that the coordination of such resources in such a way as to become part of a regular part of the curriculum is a massive and complex undertaking, but it might be the next logical, and necessary, step in arts education. What was once icing on the cake, artists, musicians, and dancers coming to the schools, may now be the only way this education can happen on a consistent basis.
This could become a model for many districts nationwide, but it will require a person with incredible zeal for the task…someone with thick skin who is unwilling to take ‘no’ for an answer.
Columbus Children’s Choir, seen below, is just one of many examples of the way music education can flourish in our community. Once part of the Columbus Symphony organization, CCC became an independent, not-for-profit children’s choral program in 1996. Their mission is “focused on fostering the personal growth of children through meaningful experiences in music education and vocal performance.”
I believe this type of collaboration is a vital and necessary step if our children are going to receive any music education beyond what the marketplace gives them. It is also crucial for the arts organizations, if they are to have any hope of future generations of artists, musicians, actors, and dancers growing up to fill their shoes.