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Arts Education for Every Grade

Arts Education for Every Grade
Elementary school children put on a play with a cast of young refugees from Iran, Kosovo, and Liberia.

Beginning in the 1970s, arts programs in public schools were decimated by draconian budget cuts. But since 1997, the City has given $75 million annually to schools for arts teachers, supplies, and visiting groups. But there is still not enough money and many students particularly those in poor communities—have no arts programs at all.

Lincoln Center Institute, part of the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, was established in 1975 to bring arts back to City public schools. Through its programs in 130 schools, students study a work of art and then create their own. In 2006, a two-year $60,000 grant helped the Institute bring its program to four Bronx schools that feed into each other—an elementary, a middle, and a high school—so that kids will progress through it grade by grade.

These are high-needs schools with many first- and second-generation immigrants. One curriculum centered on a play commissioned by the Institute that has a cast of young refugees from Iran, Kosovo, and Liberia. In the second year of the grant, 400 students studied and performed works by the Post Comedy Theater, a dance program by the Sean Curran Company, and music performed by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.

Similar to math and science, arts curriculums that progress logically year after year provide kids with a deeper understanding and connection to the subjects. The four schools will become sites for a multi-year research project by Brown University on this type of arts education.

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