On the Next Community Conversations, 'The Future of Arts Education: What's at Stake?'

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Music, visual art, theater and other creative programs help children develop important cognitive, fine motor and social skills. Yet each year, public school districts face deeper cuts in school budgets for arts programs. What can be done to ensure public school students are exposed to these formative experiences?

On Thursday, October 5 at 8 p.m., Rhode Island Monthly and the Rhode Island Foundation present the latest edition in the Rhode Island PBS Community Conversations series, The Future of Arts Education: What's at Stake? Host Mario Hilario moderates a discussion with a panel of guests and the live studio audience, as they explore the issues, options, and innovative responses from schools, parents, students, and the greater arts community.

arts education panel The discussion is inspired by an article in the September issue of Rhode Island Monthly magazine. The article cites research showing students perform better in core subjects when they are involved in the arts, particularly if they are from low-income neighborhoods. According to a longitudinal study published in 2012 by the National Endowment for the Arts, low-income students who have a history of in-depth arts instruction earned better grades in science, math, and writing — and were three times more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree — than their peers with less arts exposure.

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Ken Wagner says in the article, “There’s no question in my mind that administrators and educators want to invest in arts programming and want to offer more opportunities to their kids, but are faced with very difficult financial and programmatic decisions.”

Dr. Wagner will be joined on the show’s panel by Daniel Lee White, theater artist in residence at Providence’s Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts; Kerry Murphy, fine arts teacher at Johnston High School; and Casey Nilsson, associate editor at Rhode Island Monthly and the article’s author. The program also features segments taped on location, including at the Manton Avenue Project.

“At the core of our mission is our commitment to develop appreciation for the power, beauty, and value of art and music,” said David W. Piccerelli, president of Rhode Island PBS. “As an accessible and alternative source of fine and performing arts content for all ages for 50 years, Rhode Island PBS is pleased to partner with Rhode Island Monthly and the Rhode Island Foundation to discuss the importance of providing children with real world, hands-on experiences in the arts.”  

Rhode Island Monthly’s mission is to document all aspects of life in Rhode Island,” said John Palumbo, Rhode Island Monthly publisher. “Rich in our past and present are the arts and the tangible impact they make on the quality of life for all Rhode Islanders. A deeper look at how we can ensure the arts are a part of the tapestry for our young people moving forward is both relevant and of urgency.”

“We support initiatives that address significant community challenges,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. "With our focus on diverse participation in the arts, educational success and a vibrant arts sector, we hope this discussion sparks innovative approaches to sustaining the investment that so many make in these important programs.”

The full article is available online at Rhode Island Monthly. Community ConversationsThe Future of Arts Education: What’s at Stake? airs in high definition on WSBE Rhode Island PBS over-the-air at digital 36.1;  on Rhode Island cable services: Cox 08 / 1008HD, Verizon FiOS 08 / 508HD, Full Channel 08; on Massachusetts cable services: Comcast 819HD, Verizon 18 / 518HD; on satellite: DirecTV 36 / 3128HD, Dish Network 36. The program will be available for streaming online through the station’s Website after television broadcast.