Recent School District arts initiatives

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

  • Artists-in-residence. Some 200 artists are working in 40 elementary schools that don’t have full-time art teachers in a program with the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership. The artists work with classroom teachers on special projects. They spend 10 days in the school, generally one day a week over a two-and-a-half month period.
  • Rebuilding high school bands and orchestras. The District has put new marching bands in Germantown, Kensington, Overbrook, Strawberry Mansion, West Philadelphia, and the High School of the Future (opening in September). Fels, Frankford, Gratz, Lincoln, Northeast, and Olney got new band instruments. Central, Fels, GAMP, Girls, Masterman, Northeast, and Washington received new orchestra instruments.
  • Performance and Outreach Model (POM). Students in underserved neighborhoods who master the recorder have the option of taking instrumental lessons starting in fourth grade. They get group lessons at their schools and can participate in new chamber orchestras or bands. The District has spent $700,000 on new instruments for this program.
  • Expanded summer activities. Students can participate in mural arts, pottery and other activities during the summer. There are also marching band, string orchestra, and vocal music summer camps.
  • Partnership with the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This program brings fourth-graders to the museum for lessons on the place of art in world cultures and the history of art in Philadelphia.
  • Partnership with Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. Up to 20 new murals a year will be created in and around schools over four years.
  • Theater curriculum. The District has written a high school theater curriculum in conjunction with Philadelphia Young Playwrights.
  • Ethnic music programs. Two schools, Key and Kirkbride, will have Asian orchestras in a partnership with the music group Eastern Melody; two others, Fairhill and McKinley, will have cuatro (a Puerto Rican string instrument) programs in a partnership with the Asociación de Músicos Latino Americanos. Taller Puertorriqueño is working with the District to expand knowledge of Latin culture through music and art.