Adding a ‘Spark!’ to education

The Arts: Nicety or Necessity?  That was the question and theme of our 121st Annual Installation Banquet on January 30th. As we listened to speaker after speaker point to the importance of the arts in their success, the answer was clear; the arts are a necessity.

Our community has the opportunity to lift up the arts in a number of ways:  attending cultural events, visiting our local museums, the list goes on and on. Perhaps the most important opportunity is our investment in arts education at our schools. Arts education is a key element to the success of our entire community. Not only do the arts provide students with the joy that music, theatre and dance can bring, arts education leads to a more creative workforce with important critical thinking skills.  This innovative approach proves that the arts mean business.

As we watched student performances at the banquet, you might not have guessed that participation in the arts is directly connected to a more prosperous economy. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Michele Cantwell-Copher from the Fresno County Office of Education brought us all to that realization. Research has shown that participation in arts education is directly tied to success in school and life.

Now is the time. Schools and the community need to partner to ensure that all students have access to arts education. We have a vehicle to make that happen in Fresno. The Arts Business Coalition is a growing partnership between local businesses and school districts. The vision of the Coalition is a prosperous community with college and career-ready graduates skilled in creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication through arts education.  The Coalition has successfully launched an Adopt-A-School initiative called Spark! and provided funding for ten schools in Fresno County to create or expand arts education. There is still much to be done. To find out how you can help contact Lindsay Callahan at the Fresno County Office of Education at lcallahan@fcoe.org or (559)265-3098 ext 3153

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