Guest editorial | ParkRecord.com

Guest editorial

Support arts education by participating in Arts Council’s Project ABC initiative

Hadley Dynak, Executive Director
Park City Summit County Arts Council

Shorter days, cooler evenings, and backpacks in the hallway suggest that another season is upon us. As teachers and students return to the classrooms, we appreciate the role of education in our lives and the opportunities it affords our children. Adding to the excitement is National Arts Education Week (September 10-16), designated by Congress in 2010 to acknowledge the power of the arts in preparing our future leaders to tackle challenges in creative, transformative ways.

Arts Education Week is also an invitation to participate in the work — reflecting on our accomplishments and setting priorities for what we still need to do. What questions should we be asking ourselves to ensure all Summit County schools are providing equitable access and rich opportunities — in all art forms — to our students? How can we use the new Every Student Succeeds Act (the next iteration of No Child Left Behind) to create arts-infused schools? How can we support parents, families, and local nonprofits in providing more opportunities for our students.

The weight of research is undeniable. Students who participate in the arts during their middle school years are more likely to be civically engaged than their peers who did not have arts education. They are more likely to vote, more likely to volunteer in their community, and more likely to sit on the boards of nonprofit organizations as adults.

We know that when schools provide comprehensive arts-in-education curricula, educators are better equipped to teach critical thinking skills. We also know that the arts help youth who are facing pervasive challenges. For over a decade, states and communities across the nation have been using the arts as an intervention in Title I schools to great success. Additionally, data shows that English Language Learners, and students with intellectual and developmental disabilities benefit greatly from arts-infused learning.

It’s up to us as a community to take a stand and take the lead. One simple way to do this is to participate in the cultural planning project currently underway called Project ABC: art, beauty, culture. If you haven't already, take the Project ABC survey (projectabcsc.com/survey), give the Project a free, digital high five by signing the pledge (projectabcsc.com/pledge), and like the Facebook page (facebook.com/projectabcsc) to learn more about what's going on and how to engage.

Project ABC, managed by the Park City Summit County Arts Council, is building a roadmap for the future of arts and culture in Summit County. Art matters and arts education has the power to transform teaching, learning, and the future of our communities. The opportunity to express your support, share your ideas, and make a difference is now. Take advantage.

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