This week, NPR's Elizabeth Blair presents a series about the arts' future in schools as the battle over standardized tests and public school curriculum continues. Here in DFW, a renewed interest in the arts as a way to improve cities runs parallel to plans for arts-centric schools and programs.
Blair introduced her forthcoming stories in The Case For The Arts In Overhauling Education, a conversation with Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin. We'll hear more this week about how schools are still wielding the arts to help lower-performing students shine, even as funding cuts have canceled some classes in public schools all together.
Options for arts education are multiplying in our area, in the classroom and on the streets:
Gaining STEAM In Plano: “I don’t think you could do anything in your life if someone hadn’t had a design element in it and thought about it from an art perspective,” art teacher Linda Aponte told KERA's Bill Zeeble. Aponte will set up shop in Plano's new STEAM school - a variation on the science, technology, engineering and math focus that adds arts to the mix. Around 300 students will be taught to solve problems -- like how families can live in smaller houses with fewer resources -- with tools offered by a firm base in art and design training. [KERA]
Training Workers, Not Just Stars: W.T. White's new Visual and Performing Arts Academy aims to equip students with marketable skills via ceramics courses, for example, and a pragmatic approach to earning a living as an artist. Like Dallas' storied Booker T. Washington performing arts school, students can attend even if they don't live in the school's corresponding zip code. [Art&Seek]
Culture Of Learning: Education as a state of being after the school day ends has defined new arts-focused programs that reach out to students and parents (and the rest of us.) The Dallas Museum of Art's free admissions program hit the city in January, making a trove of resources accessible to field-trippers and weekenders. The Big Read, which launched in full force this month, is a National Endowment for the Arts program facilitated here by D Academy and D Magazine that asks a whole city to read a novel together, book club style. Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is the title of choice, and screenings of the so-named film, on-campus appearances and events aplenty promote reading for leisure.
City Buys Into The Big Picture: What kind of North Texas will arts-enriched kids grow up to make, if they do stick around? And what kind of opportunities will be there for them? Back in September, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings compared arts organizations to oil wells while speaking of the arts' power to grow North Texas. Momentum has built as the city launched a new $4 million branding campaign. Months later, Rawlings christened the inaugural Dallas Arts Week with a panel on Wednesday that saw leaders brainstorming ideas on how to get and keep artists in Dallas.
New Leaders Get The Baton: We're still on the way to getting it right. Critics said the white men onstage at the mayor's aforementioned City Performance Hall discussion didn't represent the pioneering women and minorities who also run things on the arts front. Case in point: Catherine Cuellar is the Dallas Arts District's brand new executive director. The first line she sprung on Art&Seek's Stephen Becker in their Q&A upon her hiring: "I’m passionate about education." [Art&Seek]