NHPR’s Virginia Prescott Moderates Discussion on the Role Arts & Creativity plays in preparing our youth for 21st century challenges
Portsmouth, NH, May 21, 2013 – Through its series, “Opus Presents,” Portsmouth-based consulting group, Opus Advisors, LLC hosted an event at Strawbery Banke’s visitor center that brought together local, statewide and national perspectives on the role of arts in developing the skills our youth need for the 21st century.
A large body of research concludes that arts & creativity in education fosters development in children that specifically builds their capacity for critical thinking and nurtures development of their social skills, preparing them to tackle the intellectual and professional challenges they will face in high-tech environs. The social skills development also provides a foundation to help students succeed in an increasingly plural society and global world—including empathy and cross-cultural understanding.
While funding and access to arts programs for youth has declined over the past decade national coalitions and movements are forming to connect arts programming and education policy informed by national studies. Opus seeks to help our regional arts sector be aware of these movements and understand and utilize the empirical evidence and published research around the value of arts education.
“Our work with a client in California struck a chord for us,” explains Alexandra Urbanowski, a Partner at Opus Advisors. “Silicon Valley Creates is using national data to highlight the need to develop innovative models and unique collaborations to provide wider access to a diverse range of arts programming to more youth and families. By sharing how they are using this information, and highlighting the resources available in New Hampshire our goal is to help arts organizations locally.”
Virginia Prescott of NHPR’s “Word of Mouth” moderated a panel discussion, which included a national perspective provided by Randy Cohen of Americans for the Arts. Catherine O’Brian, of the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts provided a statewide perspective, and Russ Grazier of Portsmouth Music and Arts (PMAC) outlined how PMAC integrates and works together with schools to enhance their arts offerings.
PMAC’s Grazier explained his interest in the discussion by saying, “It’s really pretty simple. We know that exposing and teaching kids about art helps them be creative.” The increased focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), has forced supporters of the Arts to fight hard to keep art in the mix – with some success: many states have modified STEM to include the A from arts by using the acronym STEAM. “Whether or not kids become artists, exposing them and encouraging this creativity is a key driver for our economy,” stated Grazier. “It fuels product innovation and inspires people to think big. PMAC’s role is to provide an outlet and inspire creativity.”
Panelist Randy Cohen agreed. “Community leaders need to understand that arts education is not a frill. Too often it is the first program to be cut and the last restored. The research, however, makes clear the folly of this policy making.” Cohen went on to explain that “Young people engaged in the arts are performing better academically – with higher grades and test scores, and lower dropout rates. Prosperity in today’s global economy demands a workforce of scientists and engineers who can innovate and be creative problem-solvers—skills gained from arts and music in the schools. My work is to help people understand that arts education is not just about creating artists, but also about building more well-rounded children, strengthening our nation’s 21st century workforce, and building healthier communities.”
Attendees came from around the State to learn about how others are using the data and to participate in the discussion. The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts’ O’Brian explained her position by stating, “it’s important for these facts to have a broad audience because it’s about much more than what appears on the surface. I am happy to be part of this conversation and appreciate Opus for bringing us all together.”
- New Hampshire State Council on the Arts
- A New Vision for Arts Education
- State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education
- Arts Education Partnership
- Silicon Valley Creates
- New Hampshire Public Radio
- New Hampshire Arts and Learning Network
- NJ Arts Education Partnership
- Americans for the Arts
- Portsmouth Music and Arts