Our view: Applause for new arts education initiative
May 24, 2016
Perry-Mansfield just announced a new partnership with the South Routt and Hayden school districts.
This collaboration will expand arts education in the schools and lead to student success.
Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp in Steamboat Springs will be expanding its community programming initiative to create an innovative partnership with the South Routt and Hayden school districts.
Perry-Mansfield Executive Director Nancy Engelken said the $10,000 grant will allow the camp to bring in dance, theatre and musical theatre faculty to co-teach at the two local schools, with a goal of integrating performing arts into the districts' core curriculums.
Imagine students creating skits or improvisational dance routines to accompany what they're learning in their traditional language arts or science classes — or maybe producing a musical that explores the basic tenets of American democracy; think a student version of the Broadway hit "Hamilton."
We can't wait to see what develops from this new collaboration between one of Steamboat's most revered performing arts programs and two of Routt County's rural schools. Ultimately, we think this partnership has the power to expand opportunities for area students, strengthen both school districts and showcase our area's vibrant arts community.
Data and research show that arts education has a positive impact on students' academic achievement and school attendance. Exposure to the arts also helps students develop creativity and critical-thinking skills, while also providing an outlet of interest for those students who enjoy subjects beyond the traditional math, science, history and language arts curriculum.
In school districts where arts programs are supported and embraced, test scores are improving, and students are being prepared for success in the workplace. Increasingly, employers are looking to hire people who are creative, innovative thinkers, and arts education helps students develop those key skills.
According to data compiled by the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, low-income students who participated in arts education were four times more likely to have high academic achievement and three times more likely to have high attendance than those who didn't, and those same students were more likely to be elected to class office and participate in a math or science fair if they were involved in arts programs at their schools.
In schools where funding is tight, arts education is often fostered by collaborations with outside organizations and groups, and the partnership between Perry-Mansfield and local school districts is a perfect example of that.
The "Perry-Mansfield in the Community" initiative deserves the community's applause, and if it's as successful as we think it will be, we look for the program to expand to other school districts, helping to boost students' self-confidence and academic performance and stretch their imaginations through exposure to new experiential learning opportunities.