|The arts...a great opening act to your future.|
It's like turning a mirror on yourself. An art form gives you a painless way to find out about who you are. --Wynton Marsalis
If you've ever created or experienced art -- music, dance, drama,
visual arts, or writing -- you know that it's sometimes the best way
to express who you are, what you're feeling, or what you want to say
to the world. Recent studies have shown that arts education helps
young people develop skills in areas such as math, science, and verbal
and written communication; tools that can help us succeed in the workplace
and life in general. But when school budgets are cut, arts education
is usually the first to go...so how do we fill the gap?
First, we follow along with jazz musician and composer Wynton Marsalis as he leads the annual Essentially Ellington high school jazz competition, a program from Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Students come from all over the U.S. to participate in workshops, perform with others, and share their love of the art form. Says Essentially Ellington participant Andrew, "One thing about jazz is that it really helped me learn about myself, about the way I interact with people, and how people interact with me."
Then, across the country in Los Angeles, we meet the passionate members of WriteGirl, an organization that pairs teen girls with adult women writers for one-on-one mentoring and group workshops. Keren Taylor, director of the program, explains: "We want to give girls strong communications skills, verbally and written, and let them really learn what it is to communicate their true feelings, because that's valuable for the rest of your life." Together, the "writegirls" explore genres such as poetry, fiction, and songwriting as a means to self-expression and empowerment.
Gotta dance! In Rochester, NY, young men and women take part in the intensive Summer School of the Arts, an out-of-school program made possible by cooperation between the local Monroe school district and Nazareth College. These students talk about how learning dance is helping them in sports performance, working with others, and dispelling stereotypes. Says one boy: "People shouldn't really care about what people think about them just as long as they're having fun and I'm having a ball. You'd just be amazed about how many girls like guys that dance." [Speak out! Do you feel arts education is important?]
Finally, we visit Manhattan's Urban Academy to see how this small public school is able to stretch a limited arts budget into a variety of classes and programs. Students are required to demonstrate an arts proficiency each year as a graduation requirement...not for career training, but for the sake of a well-rounded education. Ann Cook, co-director of the school, tell us that, "In a small school, you have to have a creative use of staff." [Take our poll: Do you think arts education is important for teens?] [Great resources] [Get help 24/7]
"Arts Education...A+" was funded by MetLife Foundation. The program is regularly re-broadcast on PBS affiliates across the country. Please check our schedule for airtimes.
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