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Boston Public Schools Holds 10th Citywide Arts Festival, Announces Additional Grant Funding

BPS Arts Festival 2019
Students from the West Zone Early Learning Center in Jamaica Plain perform at the 2019 BPS Citywide Arts Festival on Boston Common.

On Thursday, June 6, as the Boston Public Schools (BPS) concludes its 10th annual Citywide Arts Festival featuring the performances of more than 1,100 students, the district announced an additional $350,000 has been committed through grant funding for the BPS Arts Expansion Initiative, in collaboration with the City of Boston and education improvement organization EdVestors.

The funding is part of an annual grant through BPS Arts Expansion, which is now in its 10th year. Since the initiative launched, about 17,000 additional BPS students have access to arts education; and the number of arts educators has doubled to 300. The percentage of preK-8 students receiving arts instruction has increased from 67% to 97% since 2009. BPS works with 65 community arts partners.

“We are grateful to our partners in Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion who have worked tirelessly for 10 years to bring equity and access to arts education to our schools and inspiration to our students, many of whom are showcasing their talents at the festival today,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “We are also celebrating the third year of our Boston Creates plan to make arts and culture as fundamental to the City of Boston’s identity as its history and traditions. Our goal is to make all Boston residents feel welcome to engage in the city’s thriving arts scene. I hope many of us are encouraged by our students who have embraced their own creativity and are willing to share it with us.”

More than 1,100 BPS students from 21 schools performed at the BPS Citywide Arts Festival on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, at the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common. 

The schools with students performing were:

  • Boston Arts Academy (Dorchester)
  • Boston Latin School (Fenway)
  • Sumner Elementary School (Roslindale)
  • Charlestown High School
  • Edwards Middle School (Charlestown)
  • Curley K-8 School (Jamaica Plain)
  • Haley K-8 School (Roslindale)
  • McKay K-8 School (East Boston)
  • Eliot K-8 School (North End)
  • Chittick Elementary School (Hyde Park)
  • Condon K-8 School (South Boston)
  • Hennigan K-8 School (Jamaica Plain)
  • Tynan Elementary School (South Boston)
  • Josiah Quincy Elementary School (Chinatown)
  • Josiah Quincy Upper School (Chinatown)
  • Umana K-8 Academy (East Boston)
  • Mather Elementary School (Dorchester)
  • Mildred Avenue K-8 School (Mattapan)
  • Edison K-8 School (Brighton)
  • Ohrenberger Elementary School (West Roxbury)
  • West Zone Early Learning Center (Jamaica Plain)

The BPS Arts Expansion initiative is a multi-year effort focused on increasing access, equity and quality of arts learning for all BPS students. The 2019-2020 school year grants will mark the 11th year of grant-making for the Arts Expansion Fund; and it marks the second year for Phase 4 of the initiative and the Fund (2018-2021). As part of this fourth phase of the BPS Arts Expansion initiative, the Walsh Administration and BPS, in collaboration with EdVestors, are working together to raise $3 million to sustain high levels of arts education in the district over a three-year period.

“For 10 years, the BPS Arts Expansion initiative has successfully brought together classroom arts teachers, school leaders, teaching artists from our nonprofit partners, families, higher education and cultural partners, and funders,” said BPS Interim Superintendent Laura Perille. “Arts education has a remarkable impact on students’ academic, social and emotional outcomes. The arts make learning more engaging, and open up our students’ minds in ways that will help them become successful in college, career and life.”

Quincy Upper School students at 2019 BPS Arts Festival

Students from the Josiah Quincy Upper School, of Chinatown, perform at the 2019 BPS Citywide Arts Festival, which was held inside the Quincy Elementary School on June 6 due to rain.

To date, donors including the Barr Foundation, the Boston Foundation, The Klarman Family Foundation and Linde Family Foundation have committed funds to ensure all preK-8 students receive weekly year-long arts instruction and that 100 percent of BPS high school graduates meet the Massachusetts Core Curriculum graduation recommendation of one year of arts instruction. Notably, there has been a significant 5:1 return of increased public investment for every private dollar invested through BPS Arts Expansion.

“For the past decade, Boston has led the nation in reinvesting in arts education by generating and sustaining a collective effort among the public, private and philanthropic sectors that has been bucking the national trend of declining arts opportunities in schools,” said Marinell Rousmaniere, President & CEO of EdVestors. “Supporting our children’s creative and intellectual growth through the arts is an important investment in our future. We have come this far due to our partnership with the Boston Public Schools and our dedicated partners who invest in closing this opportunity gap too many students experience.”

The decade-long impact of the Arts Expansion was on display throughout the week at the annual BPS Citywide Arts Festival, as student performers and exhibitors from schools celebrated the power of creativity, joined by parents and community members. The festival featured students ranging from kindergarten through eighth grade, presenting visual arts exhibits and vocal, musical, dance & theatre performances.

Chittick Students at 2019 BPS Arts Festival
Students from the Chittick Elementary School's All-Star Choir, of Hyde Park, perform at the 2019 BPS Citywide Arts Festival.

“As a BPS Theatre Arts teacher for the past 16 years, nothing has made a bigger difference in my ability to effectively reach student actors, designers and audiences than the support through BPS Arts Expansion,” said Emily Culver, at the Thomas Edison K-8 School in Brighton. “During my first several years of teaching I was by myself, with no budget whatsoever, doing productions in a school with no materials for sets, costumes, props or lighting equipment. Over the years of receiving grants through the Arts Expansion, our school has had incredible privilege of partnering with professional Scenic Designers. This has allowed the Theatre experience to become tangible and authentic for everyone in the school, and has encouraged the community to attend our performances as well. Without a doubt it has elevated the rigor of the program and continues to be a critical component of our ability to provide a well-rounded, integrative arts education at the Edison K-8 School.”

More information on the BPS Arts Expansion and the Citywide Arts Festival is available at http://www.bpsarts.org.