Accessible arts experiences are focus of 10-year initiative

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

Arts opportunities for children in Philadelphia will be getting a boost through a recently announced, 10-year campaign – Arts for Children and Youth of Greater Philadelphia.

A partnership headed by the Philadelphia Education Fund, Public Citizens for Children and Youth, and the Fleisher Art Memorial, the project will pool local resources to expose more children in the region to high-quality visual and performing arts experiences, both in and out of school.

At an April 16 community meeting launching the project, the partners emphasized the importance of arts experiences in improving the life chances of children. “We’re going to be starting our work in the middle grades because our research shows that this is where kids fall off track to graduation,” said Carol Fixman, executive director of the Philadelphia Education Fund. “Arts are not an add-on.”

The groups will be working to build supportive networks between arts organizations and teachers, to help teachers integrate all arts disciplines in their classrooms, and to involve families and communities in the initiative.

The lead partners in the project were selected through a year-long process that engaged more than 150 representatives of community, educational, and cultural organizations in conversations about how to improve access to the cultural assets of Philadelphia for the region’s children.

The Wallace Foundation, the William Penn Foundation, the Lenfest Foundation, the Nutter Inaugural Committee, and the Lincoln Financial Foundation contributed $1.4 million for the start-up of the project.