As the new arts education specialist for the Office of Arts and Culture, I’m excited to add capacity to the implementation of our citywide K-12 arts education initiative – the Creative Advantage! This is truly exciting work that seeks to build equity and access to comprehensive, high quality arts education for ALL young people in Seattle Public Schools. Many organizations, teaching artists, youth and cultural workers, arts administrators, teachers and principals have contributed at length to the development of this plan and the Seattle Arts and Music Commissions have engaged in long-term advocacy efforts in support of this work.
Starting this fall, the Creative Advantage launched in 14 schools in the Central Arts Pathway – schools that feed into and out of Washington Middle School. By 2020, all students will have access to sustained arts learning opportunities, from two hours of music and visual arts each week for elementary learners to integrated and culturally relevant experiences, and career development opportunities for middle and high schoolers.
This is our plan, Seattle – our commitment to meeting the state of Washington’s mandate for basic education, which includes the arts, and to addressing structural barriers that have disproportionately impacted groups of students by race and ethnicity. And it’s our opportunity to show what’s possible when we prioritize educational excellence, equitable access and community engagement for all young people, as evidenced by Seattle Public School’s newly adopted 5-year strategic plan.
During the last two months, we’ve gained significant ground. Check us out!
- The Creative Advantage was launched at the 11th Mayor’s Arts Awards on August 30, 2013. A signature video for the initiative, filmed and produced by talented Reel Grrls, premiered during the ceremony, and is available to view on the brand new Creative Advantage web site at www.CreativeAdvantageSeattle.org!
- As a strong testament to arts education, Superintendent José Banda kicked off the school year by engaging in art-making alongside students in John Muir Elementary and Rainier Beach High School. He also spoke to the importance of arts and access in schools: “Arts learning is one example of the commitment we have made to ensuring equity of access for all of our students.”
- Two community partner meetings were held in late August and early September to introduce the Creative Advantage to organizations and artists working with young people in Seattle. These events served as an opportunity for input into key elements of the plan, such as professional development, and the community partnership roster, from which schools will choose programs to implement their respective arts plans.
We have a strong web of support in this multi-stakeholder partnership that includes the city, the school district, Seattle Foundation and community partners, working collaboratively to ensure success for our city and its young people.
As the Creative Advantage unfolds, we seek to develop processes that are equitable, accessible, and reflect a strong race and social justice framework. In order to accomplish this, we will create space for sharing, dialog, input and feedback on the work as it develops. To that end, I’m excited to meet with the many groups in our community leading rich and powerful experiences for young people. Please sign up for our arts education enews to stay up to date with this project.
To a city where arts and culture thrive for all!
Lara Davis, arts education specialist
Images: Mrs. Trout’s arts classroom at John Muir Elementary School. Courtesy Seattle Public Schools.