Finally: New Budget Allocation in NYC to the Arts!

By Robin Chan, Arts For All Intern

August 22, 2014

After years of budget cuts, schools may finally have the opportunity to rebuild their arts programs. Towards the end of June, the City had announced an additional $23 million allocation of funds for New York City schools to improve education in the arts for the 2014-2015 academic year. This is the ideal response to Comptroller Scott Stringer’s report in April, which posed concerns towards the steady decline of funding for arts education in the last seven years. In his report, he had noted that a staggering 28 percent of schools lacked a full-time certified arts teacher, 20 percent have neither a full- nor part-time certified arts teacher, and one in four middle and high schools lack partnership with an arts or cultural organization.

With many New York City schools having limited budgets, they often dedicate their funds to a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, neglecting to incorporate the arts into their curricula. This is particularly positive news for low-income public schools who may either revive old art programs or begin to provide them. The new investment aims to provide thousands of students with music, dance, visual arts, and theater classes. The budget allocation is also an effort to provide equality for all, entitling students to attend a school with a rich curriculum that includes the arts regardless of their residential neighborhood.

Amongst various investments through the budget allocation, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina had announced plans to allot $5 million to the hiring of 120 certified art teachers. An additional $2 million would go towards helping low-arts schools boost their arts programs by hiring borough-based arts teams as outlets of guidance and support. They also anticipate approximately $360,000 to support a partnership at Hunter College to train prospective art teachers to maintain and develop programs.

But why is it so important to integrate the arts into school curricula? According to Americans for the Arts, a non-profit organization similar to Arts For All that strives to ensure a well-rounded education that includes the arts for all individuals, research suggests impressive benefits of an arts education that includes increased student motivation, attitudes, and attendance. Further, “numerous reports discuss the ways that increased access and involvement in arts education encourage students to stay in school, succeed in school, succeed in life, and succeed in work.” Exposing the arts to children at a young age aims to cultivate an outlet of creativity to positively influence their daily activities.

Yet, it is important to acknowledge the distinction between “creativity” and “talent,” more specifically their dissociation. Rather, art is a process that stimulates the mind. Just as reading may eventually expand one’s vocabulary, creating art can similarly pose positive results on one’s overall learning process growing up. This is best done by providing young children with the tools to do so, and with the much-needed funding now available, Arts For All is thrilled that more children will be given the opportunity to explore the arts!

Mural 3Here’s a picture from an Arts For All Chicago mural project.

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