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Message from the director: $1 million for arts education

It feels like summer has finally begun in Seattle, which seems strange to me as it’s already getting close to back-to-school time. While it doesn’t affect me personally, I’m looking forward to the start of a new school year, thanks to the recent announcement that Seattle Public Schools is the recipient of a $1 million planning grant from the New-York based Wallace Foundation to engage the community in developing a plan to enhance arts instruction in the classroom.

This week, I along with representatives from the Seattle Arts Commission met with Interim Superintendent Dr. Susan Enfield to discuss the planning grant, which will support the development of a comprehensive K-12 arts education plan aimed at increasing quality arts learning opportunities for all students in Seattle Public Schools, especially those with the least access.

Seattle was selected from a pool of 53 cities to apply for the Wallace Foundation Arts Learning Initiative planning grant, thanks in large part to the progress of the Seattle Arts Education Partnership—a multiyear collaboration between the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, Seattle Arts Commission and Seattle Public Schools—to put the arts back in education for all students.

There is no disputing that the arts are an essential ingredient in a complete education. Evidence suggests that when schools invest in arts education, students demonstrate academic gains. And when students engage in creative expression, they benefit from increased self-confidence, sharpened attention and teamwork skills, which lead to success in career and life.

As part of the planning process, which will conclude in January 2013, the district will engage the community in a coordinated effort to develop a comprehensive arts education plan. To help shape the plan, the school district will tap teachers, arts organizations, city and community agencies, families and funders through focus groups, surveys and meetings.

I am very excited that OACA and the Seattle Arts Commission will work with the district to implement this important work for the future of our students.


Vincent E. Kitch