Mayor Emanuel, education and community leaders launch funding campaign to transform arts education in Chicago Public Schools

 

CHICAGO | Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Board of Education President David Vitale and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett today announced a transformative $38 million arts education funding campaign fueled by private donations from the city’s business, community, cultural and philanthropic leaders.  “Be Creative: The Campaign for Creative Schools,” already has raised $10 million toward its goal.

The private investment will ensure full implementation of the first-ever CPS Arts Education Plan, unveiled two years ago. The groundbreaking strategy is intended to infuse arts education throughout every public school in Chicago, and in the process, improve the academic performance of both students and schools.

“The Campaign for Creative Schools is one of the nation’s most ambitious arts education programs,” said Mayor Emanuel. “With the goal to ensure the arts are available to every student in every grade in every school across the city, CPS students will gain a fuller and richer understanding of the arts and how they intersect other fields of study. They will learn creative habits of mind that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.”

Initial implementation of the Arts Education Plan has spawned two major policy changes: designating the arts as a core subject similar to math, science and social studies; and establishing a requirement of two hours per week of arts instruction in every elementary school, made possible by extending the school day under Mayor Emanuel’s tenure.

At the core of the CPS Arts Education Plan is a systematic, sequential and rigorous approach to teaching the arts in every grade. The plan was developed in collaboration with Ingenuity, the nonprofit arts education partner to CPS established in 2011 at the recommendation of Chicago’s cultural community.

“Under this plan, arts education is now a part of the individual school report card, and principals have an incentive to make progress each year,” said School Board President David Vitale. “CPS has begun measuring the impact of arts in all of our schools to increase access to arts education for every student. In doing so, arts education no longer is considered an enrichment program, but is seen as a key factor in student success and school improvement.”

The private fund would be a transitional step, serving as a bridge to eventual public funding of the full Arts Education plan in the 2018-2019 school year.

“We are building a new foundation for public education based on the fundamental principle that the arts are essential and benefit children at every stage of their education,” Byrd-Bennett said. “The arts open the door to new ways of thinking and learning, of imagining creative solutions in fields of study across the curriculum and in future careers.”

The funds raised by the campaign will pay for putting essential classroom materials in the hands of students and teachers, such as musical instruments, cameras and scripts. It provides greater access for teachers and students to Chicago’s wide array of cultural institutions large and small, in every corner of the city. The funds also will pay for new assessment systems to track student learning in the arts, and better data collection to determine where investments make the greatest difference and where progress needs to be made.

Recognizing that certified arts instructors are at the heart of expanded arts education, Mayor Emanuel and CPS are investing $11.5 million in new public dollars to hire additional arts teachers for the current school year.

“This is one of those moments in public service that you relish. An idea takes shape, grabs hold, becomes a movement and results in actions that change lives,” said Commissioner Michelle T. Boone of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “The Campaign for Creative Schools is the direct result of the Chicago Cultural Plan we released in October 2012. The one thing that consistently bubbled up at the community meetings to take public input on the plan was that parents and communities wanted more arts education in our schools.”

Mayor Emanuel, honorary co-chair of the Campaign for Creative Schools, made the announcement to a group of students and teachers gathered in the auditorium of Benito Juarez High School in Pilsen. He was joined by his celebrated fellow honorary co-chairs: Yo-Yo-Ma, cellist, Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Renee Fleming, renowned soprano and Creative Consultant to the Lyric Opera; Damian Woetzel, director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program and former principal dancer of the New York City Ballet; and Theaster Gates, a social practice installation artist and Director of Arts and Public Life at the University of Chicago.

Also on hand were the co-chairs of the campaign’s Leadership Committee, philanthropists and civic leaders Dick and Susie Kiphart and Steve and Nancy Crown. Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust and The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust are the Lead Underwriters of fundraising for the campaign.

For more information about the Campaign for Creative Schools, including a current list of donors, please visit www.becreativechicago.org.

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