“Arts education aids students in skills needed in the workplace: flexibility, the ability to solve problems and communicate, the ability to learn new skills, to be creative and innovative, and to strive for excellence.”
– Joseph M. Calahan, Director of Corporate Communications, Xerox Corporation
“As a principal, I cannot imagine a school that is not infused with arts and culture. Quality arts education deepens learning throughout the curriculum and creates a positive school environment that promotes success among all students.”
– Jill Levine, Principal, Chattanooga Normal Park Museum Magnet Schools
The evidence that the arts contribute to high quality educational outcomes is overwhelming as evinced by study after study. Yet in many places, Chattanooga included, arts education is not universally available. Opportunities may be episodic – available one year but without continuous pathways of opportunities throughout their educational careers. Though many programs are available in Chattanooga, they are not organized in a coherent way and there are gaps in what is offered.
Imagine Chattanooga 20/20 proposes the development of a system of arts and cultural education delivery that ensures its availability to young people. It would have the following goals:
- All children and families in Hamilton County will have access to high quality in-school and community-based arts and cultural education.
- Access will be provided through a comprehensive and sequential system that creates unbroken pathways of opportunity and encourages and promotes equity and broad participation.
- These arts and cultural education opportunities will also address the community’s broader academic and social goals for children and families and will involve a partnership of public and private sectors, cultural institutions, artists, community-based providers, and significant funders.
- Conduct an inventory of current arts education programs in the schools and community to identify critical gaps in arts education programs as well as to identify successful existing models in the community.
- Develop a coordinated approach to arts and cultural education opportunities for children in PreK–12 that includes both arts-focused instruction and arts instruction integrated with other subject matter such as reading and math, rewarding cultural institutions, community based providers, artists, and others who participate in this approach.
- Identify the appropriate agency to coordinate the arts education effort and hire appropriate dedicated staff to ensure program delivery for PreK-12 children in the community and schools.
- Partner with the higher education community to develop rigorous research and assessment that will lead to continuous improvement in arts and cultural education programs and that can measure the impact of programs on children, families, and the broader community.
- Develop a coordinated and aggressive approach to advocate for arts and cultural education in the local schools and community. Advocacy should be based on local and national research on the impact of arts education and should include as a goal the placement of an arts educator in every school.
- Develop an in-depth and practical program of professional development for teachers and community teaching artists that is grounded in recognized best practices. The professional development should include workshops, modeling, and coaching elements as well as resources to support implementation of what has been learned.
- Explore best practices in arts education that can enhance an understanding of successful programs and the systems approach to program delivery.
- Implement Chattanooga’s Imagine! initiative for all grade levels to ensure that all children in the community have exposure to different art forms and venues.
- Develop a Cultural Passport Program that would provide children from disadvantaged or underserved communities with free or discounted admission and transportation to museums, arts performances, and other art activities.
- Create a community wide arts festival to showcase the artistic talents and achievements of students.
- Develop a diversified funding stream for PreK-12 arts and cultural education in the community to include individual, corporate, foundation, and government support and funding from local, state, and national sources.
- As a critical component of this funding model, Chattanooga’s local arts agency, Allied Arts (ArtsBuild), should make a long term commitment through its general revenues to a systemic and coordinated approach to arts and cultural education.