The arts are a critical part of a student’s development and overall education, so much so that Congress has designated a week in September to emphasize their importance.
National Arts in Education Week is a national celebration recognizing the transformative power of the arts in education. Passed by Congress in 2010, House Resolution 275 designates the week that follows the second Sunday of September as National Arts in Education Week. The celebration is intended to bring attention to the cause of arts education for elected officials and educational decision makers across the country and to support equitable access to the arts for all learners.
Locally, Phoenix-based nonprofit Act One is working to expand access to the arts, especially in the face of the impact of the pandemic. Key facts:
— According to the Brookings Institute, children learn to communicate partially through artistic expression, and the arts teach children how to consider different points of view, show empathy and learn about the human condition. Among adults, arts participation is linked to increased civic engagement, greater social tolerance, and even lower crime.
— Act One makes the arts accessible to thousands of children and families in Arizona each year through field trips for K-12 students from economically disadvantaged schools. Those programs are set to resume this fall, meeting a key educational need for students.
— And, a new program sprouted during the pandemic promises to enhance the ways children experience the arts moving forward, while making arts programs more accessible in rural areas than ever before. Act One’s new, custom virtual reality arts field trip — called Arts Immersion — allows students to explore the world of arts from anywhere. It is the only virtual reality arts program of its kind happening in the state of Arizona and perhaps in the entire country. Even on a national level, most VR programs are centered around science and geography. Click here for a sneak peek.
This year, Act One has put together a toolkit for educators with different ways to celebrate in schools, districts and in homes. The main focus is around ways to Participate, Celebrate and Advocate for arts in education. The toolkit can be downloaded at this link.
Additionally, during National Arts in Education Week, Act One will present the inaugural Tancer Arts in Education Award to Taryn Tidwell of Shephard Junior High School in Mesa. She was recognized for the first-ever award for serving as the choir and musical theater director for the school. She is a cancer survivor and a passionate advocate for the performing arts.
Act One’s Phoenix and Tucson travel teams of Virtual Reality Specialists will visit Title I schools in the Phoenix and Tucson areas and rural areas in Arizona as soon as Fall 2021. Its all-in-one Bus Case with VR headsets and WIFI will arrive in an Act One van to run the engaging, educational, and inspiring hour-long experience.
Act One provides meaningful arts experiences that enhance the academic and creative potential of children and families in Arizona. It envisions a time when all Arizonans acknowledge the value of creative arts experiences as a significant component of educational advancement and personal well-being. For more information on Act One, visit www.act1az.org.