Mayor Bill de Blasio has long been a proponent of providing free Pre-K and after school activities to all children in New York City. When the recently elected mayor gave his State of the City Address his focus on strengthening our cities educational structure was one of his main focuses. As one of the major cities in the world, New York is failing in education. The city’s Public School system’s unsatisfactory condition due to lack of resources and funding is appalling. Twenty Five percent of NYC public elementary schools are operating without an art teacher while funding for art materials has declined by eighty percent. De Blasio stated his commitment to not lose sight of the industries that have made us the center of commerce and culture. The mayor also declared that by supporting public school education for kids and strengthening the advanced education provided by CUNY, New York City would strengthen the creative industries and skilled labor in the city. Pair this statement with a recent study showing that arts education leads students to think more critically, and you can see how vital it is that arts education is a key component of public education.
There are many educators who are aware of the benefits of an arts education. We applaud the successes of Principal Ramon Gonzalez of Middle School 223 The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology, in the Bronx. The school participated in The Center for Arts Education’s federally funded School Arts Support Initiative, which “seeks to help nine New York City middle schools to develop sustainable education in and through the arts in place of limited, fragmentary and sporadic arts education programming.” The results are encouraging!
It has been our approach from the start to develop an inspirational environment for NYC school children to work with artists both inside and out of the classroom. More Art has organized after-school programs with local schools intended to introduce students to contemporary art and provide an opportunity to collaborate with contemporary artists on artworks.
Tony Oursler worked with students from Liberty High School and Clinton Middle School to produce a collaborative video with real time scrolling text messaging display to be projected in the Fulton Houses playground.
For our Envision New York 2017 project Coco Fusco focused on creating a message that expresses the opportunity to think about art’s role in the intellectual development of children.
This message should resonate with New Yorkers as we enter a new chapter in city government. It is true that children are our future and if they are taught well they’ll lead the way a bright future. However, we must get over this inequality gap that greatly divides our city and ensure that every child has access to a world-class public education.