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January 15, 2015 at 5:23 PM

Seattle arts-in-schools program to double its reach in 2015

A program meant to correct historic gaps in art classes across Seattle will nearly double in size next fall, adding art and music classes at 10 more schools, city and school district leaders announced Thursday.

The Creative Advantage Initiative, a program paid for by the city of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools and the private Seattle Foundation, this school year helped 1,659 students in about 12 schools — mostly in the central part of the city — who wouldn’t otherwise have received regular music instruction.

Next year, the group will help 10 more schools offer arts and music classes. In general, schools in the program are able to hire more arts teachers and buy supplies, but they also get about $7,500 a year to hire artists or connect with organizations from the community, like the symphony or ballet.

Speaking at a press conference at Leschi Elementary on Thursday afternoon, Seattle schools chief Larry Nyland said art has historically been an important subject in schools, adding that his father taught art as a Seattle Public Schools employee.

“Then, for the last two decades, we’ve been focused on test scores and we’ve had financial crises,” Nyland said. “And so arts have been pushed out somewhat, certainly more than we would like.”

A 2012 study commissioned by the Creative Advantage group found that nearly three in four Seattle elementary students received 30 minutes or less of music instruction each week, and more than 6,000 students received no music instruction at all.  It also said that 9,000 students received no visual arts instruction. Black, Hispanic and Asian students were more likely to attend schools without music classes, the study found.

A report on the Creative Advantage program blamed some of those inequities on Seattle’s former school-choice policy, which it said caused schools to compete for students and concentrated resources unequally.

On Thursday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said the arts program will help end those inequities and that the city would spend $525,000 on the program over the next two years. To date, the city has spent $450,000 and the school district has paid $600,000, said Calandra Childers of the city’s office of arts and culture.

Murray said students learn many important skills through the arts, such as perseverance, working together, and thinking outside the box.

The 10 schools that will be added to the program in 2015 are:

  • Arbor Heights Elementary School
  • Concord International School
  • Highland Park Elementary School
  • Roxhill Elementary School
  • Sanislo Elementary School
  • West Seattle Elementary School
  • K-5 STEM at Boren
  • Denny International Middle School
  • Chief Sealth International High School
  • Middle College at High Point

Comments | Topics: arts education, creative advantage, Seattle

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