Superintendent Carol R. Johnson has made expansion of arts education one of the cornerstones of her Acceleration Agenda for the Boston Public Schools. In partnership with school leaders, arts specialists and community organizations, Dr. Johnson has committed to giving students of all ages greater access to the arts -- including music, dance, theater, visual arts, and more -- during and after the school day.
For more information, visit bpsarts.org.
The belief in the powerful role that arts can and should play in the life of students and an urban school system led to the launch of the Arts Expansion Initiative in the Boston Public Schools in 2009, with strong leadership by Superintendent Carol R. Johnson and a collaboration of external funders. The multi-year Initiative provides infrastructure to accelerate expansion and coordination of arts learning opportunities across the school system. The overriding goal is to increase access, equity and quality of arts learning for all students. The Initiative is closely aligned with the district’s overall reform strategies outlined in the BPS Acceleration Agenda.
The BPS Arts Expansion Initiative (AEI) employs a multi-year, three part strategy of:
The Initiative’s focus is to ensure that all BPS students, regardless of where they attend school, have access to high quality arts education. While the arts are a considerable presence in many schools, there are still too many children who do not have access to these opportunities on a consistent basis. The Initiative has set an initial goal of expanding weekly arts instruction to 100% of students up through Grade 8 while developing a range of strategies to meet the needs of high school students.
Progress to Date
In the two years since the Arts Expansion Initiative was launched in February 2009, more than 9,000 additional elementary, middle, and high school students have opportunities to experience the arts during the school day, compared with the 2008-2009 school year. Now, 4 of every 5 students in kindergarten through grade eight receive arts instruction at least once a week for the whole year, reaching ever closer to the Initiative's goal of 100% of students. In high schools, the number of students accessing any arts instruction during the school day nearly doubled.
Arts Expansion Initiative Funding
One of the primary tools of the Initiative has been the creation of the BPS Arts Expansion Fund that focuses on direct arts expansion in schools aligned with the Initiative goals. To date, the Initiative has raised more than $2.2 million of the initial 3-year goal of $2.5 million for the Fund. In school year 2010-2011, competitive grants from the Fund are supporting arts instruction for an additional 5,000 students. Grants to support school-based arts programming in the 2011-12 school year will be announced in June, 2011. Supporters of the Arts Expansion Fund include the Barr Foundation, Boston Foundation, EdVestors, Hunt Alternatives Fund, Jane’s Trust, the Klarman Family Foundation, and the Linde Family Foundation along with other foundations and individual donors.
In addition, the Arts Expansion Initiative has a $750,000 planning grant from the Wallace Foundation to craft a long-term implementation plan for sustainable arts education expansion in the BPS, touching all aspects of system design – including curriculum, district infrastructure and staffing, partnership coordination systems and quality assessment. This planning work will be completed in May 2011, following a series of stakeholder input sessions in early spring. The final plan will be considered for implementation funding by the Wallace Foundation. EdVestors serves as lead facilitator of the Initiative, working closely with Superintendent Johnson, citywide leaders, collaborating funders, and district personnel. The Arts Expansion Fund and key project staff are housed at EdVestors, which also manages the Wallace planning grant.
View the BPS Arts Calendar
June 17, 2011: Arts Advantage 2011 - Arts Expansion Progress Report
February 10, 2010: Arts Advantage 2010 - Arts Expansion Progress Report
- expanding direct arts education for more students across a wide variety of art disciplines,
- building the district’s capacity to support all aspects of an expanded arts education system within the public schools, and
- strengthening partnerships between BPS schools and Boston’s rich and diverse arts, cultural and higher education institutions.