Boston Public School students at Fenway High will continue to receive their quality arts education programs throughout the 2019-2020 school year with announcement of more than $350,000 in grants that will support nearly 60 schools working with more than 30 arts partners across the city. The annual grants are part of the successful Boston Public Schools (BPS) Arts Expansion initiative, which is celebrating its 10th year in bringing quality arts instruction to underserved neighborhoods.
The City of Boston, BPS and EdVestors announced this latest round of funding as part of this week’s seventh annual BPS Citywide Arts Festival, a three-day celebration featuring more than 1,100 BPS student performers and exhibitors.
“We are grateful to our partners in Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion who have worked tirelessly for 10 years to bring equity and access to arts education to our schools and inspiration to our students, many of whom are showcasing their talents at the festival today,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “We are also celebrating the third year of our Boston Creates plan to make arts and culture as fundamental to the City of Boston’s identity as its history and traditions. Our goal is to make all Boston residents feel welcome to engage in the city’s thriving arts scene. I hope many of us are encouraged by our students who have embraced their own creativity and are willing to share it with us.”
The BPS Arts Expansion initiative is a multi-year effort focused on increasing access, equity and quality of arts learning for all BPS students. The 2019-2020 school year grants will mark the 11th year of grant-making for the Arts Expansion Fund and the second year for Phase 4 of the initiative and the Fund (2018-2021). As part of this fourth phase of the BPS Arts Expansion initiative, the Walsh Administration and BPS, in collaboration with EdVestors, are working together to raise $3 million to sustain high levels of arts education in the district over a three-year period.
As a result of this ongoing collaboration, there are now 80 percent more arts teachers working with 65 community arts partners providing arts instruction to 17,000 more students each year as compared to a decade ago. From 2009-2019, the percentage of BPS pre-K-8th grade students receiving a minimum of weekly, year-long arts instruction or its equivalent increased from 67 percent to 97 percent.
“For the past decade, Boston has led the nation in reinvesting in arts education by generating and sustaining a collective effort among the public, private and philanthropic sectors that has been bucking the national trend of declining arts opportunities in schools,” said Marinell Rousmaniere, President & CEO of EdVestors. “Supporting our children’s creative and intellectual growth through the arts is an important investment in our future. We have come this far due to our partnership with the Boston Public Schools and our dedicated partners who invest in closing this opportunity gap too many students experience.”
To date, donors including the Barr Foundation, the Boston Foundation, The Klarman Family Foundation and Linde Family Foundation have committed funds to ensure all preK-8 students receive weekly year-long arts instruction and that 100 percent of BPS high school graduates meet the Massachusetts Core Curriculum graduation recommendation of one year of arts instruction. Notably, there has been a significant 5:1 return of increased public investment for every private dollar invested through BPS Arts Expansion.
“For 10 years, the BPS Arts Expansion initiative has successfully brought together classroom arts teachers, school leaders, teaching artists from our nonprofit partners, families, higher education and cultural partners, and funders,” said BPS Interim Superintendent Laura Perille. “Arts education has a remarkable impact on students’ academic, social and emotional outcomes. The arts make learning more engaging, and open up our students’ minds in ways that will help them become successful in college, career and life.”
The decade-long impact of the Arts Expansion can be seen on display throughout the week at the annual BPS Citywide Arts Festival, as student performers and exhibitors from schools celebrate the power of creativity, joined by parents and community members. The Festival, which kicked off earlier this week on the Boston Common and is running through today, features students ranging from kindergarten through eighth grade, presenting visual arts exhibits and vocal, musical, dance & theatre performances.
“As a BPS Theatre Arts teacher for the past 16 years, nothing has made a bigger difference in my ability to effectively reach student actors, designers and audiences than the support through BPS Arts Expansion,” said Emily Culver, at the Thomas Edison K-8 School in Brighton. “During my first several years of teaching I was by myself, with no budget whatsoever, doing productions in a school with no materials for sets, costumes, props or lighting equipment. Over the years of receiving grants through the Arts Expansion, our school has had incredible privilege of partnering with professional Scenic Designers. This has allowed the Theatre experience to become tangible and authentic for everyone in the school, and has encouraged the community to attend our performances as well. Without a doubt it has elevated the rigor of the program and continues to be a critical component of our ability to provide a well-rounded, integrative arts education at the Edison K-8 School.”
More information on the BPS Arts Expansion and the Citywide Arts Festival is available at http://www.bpsarts.org.