Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1995-1996 index

Distributed March 5, 1996
Contact: Tracie Sweeney

The Annenberg Challenge

New York City public schools receive $12-million arts education grant

The Annenberg Foundation has awarded $12 million, to be matched two-to-one, to help New York City implement an arts-based education improvement effort in the city's public schools. Teachers, community organizations, parents, universities and artists will work together to implement programs specific to each school site.

NEW YORK CITY -- New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Schools Chancellor Rudolph F. Crew today (March 5) announced the awarding of a $12-million arts education grant for the New York City public schools from The Annenberg Foundation. The grant is part of the foundation's challenge for school reform.

The grant, to be matched two-to-one by the initiative to make a budget of $36 million, is being made to implement the plan, "Institutionalizing Arts Education for New York City Public Schools: Educational Improvement and Reform Through the Arts." The plan was created by Artsvision, the New York-based arts education consulting firm, and was commissioned by The Board of Education of the City of New York and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, with funding from the Aaron Diamond Foundation.

"This wonderful initiative will restore arts education to New York City classrooms by uniting the resources of the public schools with New York's parents, arts organizations, universities, artists, community organizations and other arts-related industries," said Giuliani. "The arts are an important aspect in the education of our children and I commend the Annenberg Foundation for its commitment to the welfare of the future of our city."

"Enriching the learning of children through arts education is a most important undertaking," said Wallis Annenberg, vice president of The Annenberg Foundation. "This initiative promises to be a model for other cities."

Central to the project are the coordinated efforts of teachers, arts organizations, community organizations, arts specialists, parents, colleges and universities, and artists - some of whom have been engaged for many years, on a smaller scale, in the sorts of partnerships this project envisions. They will work together to implement arts programs according to a flexible formula specific to each school site. The project will unite these groups in a common effort to bring quality arts instruction to New York City's school children. Partnerships at the local school level will join available resources with local needs.

"New York City, with its dynamic collection of cultural and arts organizations, seems a natural place to forge a partnership between those working on the front lines of reforming schools and those seeking to make the arts more central to student learning," said Brown University President Vartan Gregorian, pro bono advisor to The Annenberg Foundation. "It is not surprising that at a meeting more than a year ago attended by some 70 New York City-based foundations, the issue of how the arts might play a greater role in transforming the city's schools came up for discussion. I am delighted that since then, many leaders in the field of arts education, funders and educators came together and submitted a project which enjoys the support of not only Chancellor Crew but the mayor, Sandra Feldman, president of the United Federation of Teachers; Carol Gresser, president of the Board of Education; and many foundations and leaders in the domain of arts education. The grant complements the Annenberg Challenge project already under way in the city, uniting networks of restructuring schools in a Learning Zone."

The Arts Education Challenge will be governed by an independent Center for Arts Education, with a board comprised of representatives from foundations, schools, arts, government, United Federation of Teachers, parents and arts-related industry constituencies. School services will be developed and provided by small partnerships of individual schools, arts organizations, universities and community organizations. Funds will be distributed upon highly accountable and measurable standards of responsibilities and proven outcomes.

Research demonstrates that arts education improves academic performance. Students who receive arts education are more highly motivated learners; attend school more regularly; read and compute at higher levels; respect cultural differences; and are much less likely to resort to violence to solve problems. In middle and high school, arts education provides direct access from school to work through New York City's arts-related industries.