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Grants for Arts Education in Connecticut Schools is Announced

A new grant is available for schools all over Connecticut that is designed to strengthen the the arts in education by exposing young people to the arts. This grant is a result of a collaboration between the State Department of Education and several Connecticut funding agencies, including the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), the Connecticut Office of the Arts, and the Connecticut Arts Council.

The grant program will provide $250,000 in mini-grants of up to $50,000 per school, and is not just to establish an arts class in the school, but also to establish partnerships between schools and local and state arts insitutions, organizations, and artists. (1)

To offer this grant and others like it is a reasonable response to the recent dropping of arts classes in many public schools. Many charter and magnet schools still have strong arts programs, and one reason for this is in recent research that many people suspected was true. The question examined is whether or not arts education has an economic benefit for society, not just creative expression.

In December of 2013, The National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, released preliminary estimates from the nation’s first Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account. The purpose of this Account was to determine if there is a relationship between "the arts and cultural industries, goods, and services, and the nation’s ultimate measure of economic growth, its gross domestic product."

Although the Account only referenced the data from postsecondary fine-arts schools, departments of fine arts and performing arts, and academic performing-arts centers, the findings are remarkable:

* In 2011, arts education added $7.6-billion to the nation’s GDP.
* In that year alone, arts education as an industry employed 17,900 workers whose salaries and wages totaled $5.9-billion.
* For every dollar consumers spend on arts education, an additional 56 cents is generated elsewhere in the U.S. economy.

Again, these figures do not include design schools, media-arts departments within schools of communications, or creative-writing programs—to name just a few notable omissions from the world of higher education. And, these are preliminary findings, and this is still a work in progress However, they do seem to indicate a positive relationship between creative exercise represented by arts education and a strong economy.(2)

“These cultural investments will directly enrich lives of students and allow us to preserve and enhance the humanities

across Connecticut schools,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who announced the availability of these grants during the August "Back To School" meeting with Connecticut school superintendents.

Along with the required descriptions of how the funding will work with a partner institution or artist, applications that include parent and/or civic engagement will receive preference.(1)

The contribution offered by Office of the Arts to this project is based on its ongoing administration of the nationally recognized Higher Order Thinking (HOT) Schools model, which integrates arts integration with school based opportunities for access, connection and integration. Schools who apply for this grant must show that they have a need for such support, and their application will be put on a scale with other applications to determine their relative need in this area.(3)

The HOT website describes this model in this way: "HOT Schools integrate the arts across disciplines, creating arts-rich environments that motivate students to make connections between and among subject areas and ideas." (4) There are currently 47 schools using this model, presented by thousands of educators, administrators, and performing and teaching artists to 100,000 students, in all Connecticut districts. The fascinating video that demonstrates this model being implemented in a classroom is here.(4)

It would be really interesting to find out what this grant could do for the students of the awarded schools, and also to see the development of the best practices that teachers will develop while presenting this new arts curriculum.

(1) New CT Grants for Arts in Schools. (9/1/2014) The Hartford Guardian.

(2) Sunil Iyengar and Ayanna Hudson. Who Knew? Arts Education Fuels the Economy. (3/10/2014) The Chronicle of Higher Education.

(3) Kelly Donnelly. New grant program to strengthen the arts in education. (8/19/2014) Connecticut State Department of Education.

(4) Higher Order Thinking (HOT) Schools Program. (2014) Offices of Culture and Tourism, Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

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