July 3, 2014
In an effort to rejuvenate arts education in New York City's public school system, Mayor Bill De Blasio just announced a $23 million funding initiative. According to Norwood News, the boost is clearly needed as many schools have seen their arts programs dwindle over the years due to budget cuts and other factors. The hope is that these funds will be enough to revitalize each school's efforts in the arts, and provide an outlet for students.
"For so many young people, their coming of age, their moment of awareness, their moment of really believing in themselves and locking into their overall academic path, came through arts and culture," said Mayor De Blasio.
As the Epoch Times points out, this surge of funds will allow the city to hire 100 new teachers and clean up arts facilities around the city. So far, $3.1 million has been earmarked for classroom supplies and $7.5 million has been allocated to the restoration of auditoriums, dance floors, and more. As many as 3,000 art teachers already employed in schools will each receive $1,000 to spend on art supplies and equipment for their respective classrooms as well.
"The idea here is to take a big step forward toward providing universal arts and culture education. This was the step we could take this year; we intend to do more going forward," Mayor De Blasio told Epoch Times at a press conference.
According to the New York Daily News, this type of investment in the city's art programs has been a long time coming, since as many as 400 schools have gone without an art teacher for quite some time. Many of the schools without adequate art programs for students are also located in low-income areas, creating a disparity that disproportionately affects poor children.
Norwood News notes the $23 million investment may have also come to fruition as a response to a report released by City Comptroller Scott Stringer entitled "State of the Arts." According to the report, arts facilities were especially lacking in the South Bronx area of the city where roughly 42 percent of schools have gone without a full-time art teacher.
"For too long, we had under-invested in arts education and cultural education in our schools," Stringer told Norwood News. "And it was time to right that wrong and do something aggressive about it."
Other city officials, such as Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, stated that denying children an education in the arts could affect their confidence, adding that attendance rates tend to increase at schools that have a viable arts education program. These reasons, and others, made for a situation where the city was able to justify working funds for the arts into the budget, even at a time when money for schools is tight. It also goes to show that improved relations between elected officials can go a long way toward improving conditions for their constituents.
"Comptrollers and other elected officials can issue all the reports in the world, everyone can crunch the data," said Stringer. "But many times, those reports don't get to the main person. But Bill De Blasio understood when he looked at the report that action was needed."
Compiled by Holly Johnson
"City to spend $23M on arts education in 2015, hire 120 art teachers," New York Daily News, July 2, 2014, Erin Durkin, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/city-spend-23m-arts-education-hire-120-art-teachers-article-1.1851780
"For Arts Education, A $23 Million Boost," Norwood News, July 1, 2014, David Cruz, http://www.norwoodnews.org/id=15136&story=for-arts-education-a-23-million-boost/
"NY City Details How $23 Million in New Arts Funding Will Be Spent," Epoch Times, July 1, 2014, Ivan Pentchoukov, http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/782119-ny-city-details-how-23-million-in-new-arts-funding-will-be-spent/