Category Archives: General Arts/Arts Ed.

New Study Examines What Kids Want, Need in Arts Programs

Photo Credit: Laura Foord

Photo Credit: Laura Foord

A recent study commissioned by the Wallace Foundation offers ten key strategies for after-school arts programs to attract and retain less-advantaged youth. “Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs From Urban Youth and Other Experts” draws on interviews with experts from leaders of outstanding arts programs nationwide to kids themselves and their families in order to answer three pressing questions:

  • How can urban, low-income tweens and teens gain equal access to high-quality arts experiences?
  • Is there a model of practices that could provide a blueprint for community-based organizations to emulate, so that proven approaches could be deployed in more places, more often?
  • Is there a way to approach the analysis of these problems that respects and honors the young people as consumers who make informed choices? And how do the insights of what tweens and teens want align with what other experts say they need?

By examining not only children’s access to these programs but also their desire to participate in them, this study provides an important look at what motivates youth to spend their time in after-school arts programs, and how we can enhance new and existing programs to make them more engaging.

Arts to Grow programs put into practice many of the principles cited in this study. Our classes are taught by professional Teaching Artists who are active in their field; our programs are customized to meet the needs of each group of students; our students actively engage in making art, which they then share with their community during our culminating events; and our Teaching Artists foster a safe community where students can feel accepted and free to express themselves. As we implement our ambitious plan to serve 5,000 kids annually within the next five years, we are working diligently to ensure that each new program is held to these same high standards.

Arts to Grow programs are taught by professional Teaching Artists, trained working artists with hands-on experience teaching students their art form.  If you’re interested in teaching for Arts to Grow, please visit us at for more information.


“Get Out the Give” TODAY With Arts to Grow and #GivingTuesday

Photo Credit: Bill Stanton

Photo Credit: Bill Stanton

The giving season is officially upon us!  Arts to Grow is proud to announce our partnership with #GivingTuesday, a movement to create an annual day of giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.  The goal is to kick off the holiday season by celebrating charitable donations and activities that benefit the local community—and that’s where you come in.

Join us TODAY as we aim to kick-start our annual appeal by raising $1,000—enough to provide two students with a full year of in-depth arts education.  Your contribution is vital to ensuring that we can bring our proven arts programs to the 50+ schools and community organizations on our waitlist.

Last week, we wrote about the many benefits that arts learning has on developing young minds.  Children who are exposed to the arts have stronger critical thinking skills, greater historical empathy, higher tolerance, and more interest in art museums than their peers who lack access to the arts.  Additionally, a recent CollegeBoard report found that high school seniors who had taken four years of arts classes scored an average of 156 points higher on their SATs than seniors who had taken half a year or less of arts classes.  It’s clear that meaningful engagement with the arts is essential to helping children reach their full potential, gain 21st century skills, and become future leaders in their communities, but dwindling school budgets often mean that the most vulnerable students are left without this important resource.    We need your help to provide more students with access to learning through the arts.

Our students have learned to love learning as a result of their time in Arts to Grow programs.  Consider Ismeyda, who had trouble with reading until three years of participating in our Musical Theater program at CHLDC/IS 171 had her mastering theatre vocabulary and improving her literacy skills; she is now attending Brooklyn High School of the Arts, an audition-based school outside of her neighborhood.  Kristina, who also spent three years in our CHLDC/IS 171 program, is now earning straight A’s in Chemistry at Talent Unlimited High School after having previously been challenged by science classes; she has also earned the Van Lier scholarship for professional development as well as a scholarship to Pace University’s Summer Scholars theater program.  Read about three more students who’ve gained the confidence to succeed through Arts to Grow programs here.

Help us give the gift of arts education to more children this holiday season.  Click here to donate now to Arts to Grow’s #GivingTuesday campaign and spread the joy of learning in 2014.

To learn more about Arts to Grow and #GivingTuesday, please visit our website.

Access to the Arts Linked To Stronger Critical Thinking Skills, Other Benefits

Does art really make you smarter?  Yes, according to a recent opinion piece from the New York Times.  In 2011, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened in Bentonville, AK, an area where many children had little or no exposure to the arts.  Local schools immediately signed up to take advantage of the museum’s free field trip program; the demand for these trips soon outweighed what the museum could reasonably provide.  J.P. Greene, Brian Kisida, and Daniel H. Bowen of the University of Arkansas wanted to know whether these field trips were really of any benefit to the students, so they worked with the museum to arrange tours by random lottery in order to study the difference between students who did visit the museum (the “treatment” group) and students who did not (the “control” group).  The results were a strong endorsement of arts education.

After just one trip to the museum, students in the treatment group scored higher in critical thinking, historical empathy, tolerance, and interest in art museums compared to their peers in the control group.  These differences were especially pronounced in students from rural or high-poverty schools; these students showed “gains that are two to three times larger than those of the total sample” according to the Education Next article.  At a time when arts programs and field trips are being cut from school district budgets, this research demonstrates the vital impact that the arts can have on developing young minds.

At Arts to Grow, we believe firmly in providing deep, meaningful engagement with the arts to less-advantaged children so that they may develop an enduring love of learning and become future leaders in their communities.  Please join us in bringing arts programs to more children in 2014.

Arts to Grow is participating in #GivingTuesday, a national day of giving on Tuesday, December 3rd—one week from today.  To learn more please visit our website or click here to donate.

Ian Hornak was a 1960 New Haven High School graduate.  He went on earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in fine arts, and began exhibiting his artwork in 1972.  Hornak later on became know for “elaborate, extremely detailed paintings of flowers, food and tableware that recall the 17th-century Dutch vanitas tradition.”

As part of a renovation project, New Haven High School conducted a clean up.  In this clean up, a sketch made nearly 60 years ago – by Ian Hornak.  Talk about a hidden treasure!

Washington D.C. Based Kennedy Center Partners With Florida Schools For Arts Education

Arts education remains to be a hot topic in Washington D.C.  Kennedy Center announced a partnership with Duval County public schools to enhance arts education for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.  This would be the 14th school district to partner with the Kennedy Center through the Any Given Child launched in 2009.

Our Time offers arts education programs to children who stuttered.  Our Time was founded in 2001, with aims to give students who stuttered a mean to express themselves, through arts.  Our Time will be expanding its program by launching weekday after-school programs in Northern New Jersey, Westchester, and Long Island.

At Arts To Grow, we have seen first hand the power of arts.  Arts provide a forum for expression to those who otherwise may not have a voice.  Arts provide a mean for expression to those who otherwise may not know the words.  We’re happy to play our part in giving our children a way to express themselves.

Young Artist Donates Painting to C.A.R.E.

Artist Elmi Ventura Mata recently presented his original oil painting, “The People Tree,” to Community Action Reaches Everyone (C.A.R.E.), a non-profit organization based in Edison, NJ.   The primary goal for C.A.R.E. is to reduce the socio-economic and emotional barriers affecting students in our schools. 

It all comes full circle.  C.A.R.E. awarded Mata a textbook grant getting him started in his bachelor’s of fine arts education at The Cleveland Institute of Art in Ohio in 2012.  Today, Mata is a second-year Gund Scholar at The Cleveland Institute of Art.