Andrew Black is A senior community investment officer at Central Indiana Community Foundation.
Andrew Black joined CICF’s staff in 2010 after several years working on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. At CICF, Black is part of a team that responsibly stewards philanthropic resources to organizations in Central Indiana that are improving the quality of life for all people in the region. Black works primarily with local arts & culture organizations, including a new initiative related to arts and education.
While the arts are well known for providing us with countless benefits related to the cultural, entertainment and economic development of a city, they are perhaps lesser-known for their transformative and powerful effects on human development. It’s that impact that makes my work at CICF so worthwhile.
Beginning with James Catterall’s landmark study, “Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art,” and advanced through years of mounting research (conveniently aggregated by the Americans for the Arts), we now have data that indicates the positive impact art has on students. These studies indicate that students who have access to the arts or ‘arts-rich’ environments in schools are more likely to demonstrate greater social responsibility, enhanced engagement in the classroom, increased critical thinking skills and even increased daily attendance. It should be no surprise then that additional longitudinal data demonstrates that students with higher involvement in the arts are more likely to excel academically, have higher test scores, higher graduation rates, greater community service, lower dropout rates, higher levels of college completion and satisfaction in career later in life.
Perhaps the most important takeaway from this research is that it has become increasingly clear that students of low-socioeconomic status (SES), people of color, and those from urban and rural school districts benefit most from experiencing art. In fact, low SES students with high arts involvement are more than twice as likely as their peers with low arts involvement to earn a bachelor’s degree. They have higher a G.P.A. and graduation rates, and are more likely to aspire to go to college.
While this research provides powerful information that may help schools better address the achievement gap between high-resourced and low-resourced students, it is unfortunate that the students who would most benefit from increased arts involvement are also those with the least amount of access–as students of color and low-income students have roughly half of the arts access of their white and suburban peers.
Any Given Child Indianapolis: A Cure for Local Arts Inequity
In 2014, Indianapolis took steps to address this issue and was selected, through a competitive process by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., as the 18th Any Given Child city in the country. Any Given Child provides a solution to the lack of equity and access to high-quality arts education, and creates a long-term plan and programming to provide all students in the Indianapolis Public School District (IPS) with a comprehensive arts education experience in all schools K-8.
For the last year, Any Given Child Indianapolis has convened more than 30 community-based organizations, and in partnership with IPS, has constructed an implementation plan to ensure that 100 percent of K-8 students in all IPS schools have access to comprehensive arts education in dance, theatre, media arts, music and visual arts. We have already seen a flurry of activity that has bolstered both awareness and practice of comprehensive arts education. In just six months the initiative has:
- Raised more than $8,000 for arts organizations to work in local schools
- Trained 150 teachers and arts administrators in arts integration
- Identified eight pilot schools
- Completed a national study to create an online portal for arts education resources
- Received 202,389 claps from voices of support on Facebook during National Arts in Education Week
As a member of the Any Given Child Indianapolis steering committee, I have had the privilege of assisting in this process alongside of colleagues from The Arts Council of Indianapolis, WFYI, IPS, The IUPUI School of Arts & Humanities, Harrison College, and Arts for Learning. In February, I attended the 2017 Any Given Child Leadership Exchange in Washington D.C., where I met with peers from Any Given Child cities across the country. In meeting colleagues from cities such as Houston, Jacksonville, Fresno—even Missoula, Montana—I was able to learn how other cities have utilized Any Given Child as a tool to boost student achievement and access to the arts in their communities. I was also able to assess how Indianapolis is doing as an Any Given Child city.
I left the conference feeling incredibly encouraged, and with the realization that Indianapolis has all the assets, community partners and resources necessary to truly catalyze change and provide students with amazing, transformational experiences.
While the first few months of Any Given Child Indianapolis have been exciting and productive, we will continue to push forward to ensure that all of our K-8 children in IPS have access to meaningful opportunities to learn about and through the arts. Given what we now know about the power of these experiences, the stakes are too high not to provide equitable access to our city’s most important population, our children.
Contact Andrew Black at email@example.com.