- Allowing pairs of middle and high schools to share arts teachers, renovating spaces for the arts and a summer arts program are a few of the ways that the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) has expanded arts programming in recent years, according to the latest annual Arts in Schools Report.
Since 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio has allocated $23 million a year to improve equity in arts programs across the district and in partnership with community arts organizations.
- In some high-needs schools, the arts are being used as a turnaround strategy. In others, teaching artists are working with teachers and students to produce, rehearse and perform musical productions. The funds are also supporting professional development, curriculum resources and training for school leaders focusing on arts programs.
The arts can be a vehicle for increasing student engagement and teaching academic subjects in ways that might be more relevant for students. While the wide array of in-school and community-based opportunities for students in the arts might seem relatively easy in a resource-rich place like New York City, other districts can also reach out to local theater and dance programs to increase opportunities for students.
An Arts Education Partnership report recommends a variety of ways that school leaders can increase arts programming, such as integrating arts into daily instruction, identifying arts in the school’s budget, hiring staff members with arts expertise, and tapping into Title I and Title II funds to support instruction and professional learning.
One educator quoted in the report NYCDOE said it’s necessary to have a school leader who has a passion for the arts and then hires teachers and staff members who can implement the programs. As the district’s Office of Arts and Special Projects plans for next steps, it is considering some issues that are also relevant for other districts wanting to expand arts programs. These include selecting arts curriculum materials that are inclusive and reflect diversity and supporting administrators and teachers through professional development and collaboration, but also responding to schools’ individual needs.