Some school districts have hired additional teachers or added staff positions; new sources of funding for arts education have been established; communities have expanded arts offerings for students; and sites have provided professional learning for classroom teachers, arts specialists, and local arts organizations to build their capacity to deliver high-quality arts education to students.
In 2016 a team of community leaders, artists and educators came together to find a solution to align, enhance and promote access to arts education and resources for the public-school children. Following extensive research and discussion the team, in partnership with the Bethlehem Area School District applied and was chosen by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as the 24th site, and first in Pennsylvania, for Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child, a program that creates a long-range arts education plan for students in grades K-8. Forming an official community arts team of twenty-five individuals from arts, philanthropy, marketing, research, business, civic, and education sectors, the Kennedy Center lead a strategic visioning and planning process to create a customized plan for arts education. The Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University leads the organization for Any Given Child Bethlehem in partnership with the Bethlehem Area School Director and the City of Bethlehem.
With equity in, and access to, a strong arts education remaining an issue for many students across the United States, Any Given Child seeks to help fill in that gap. For many young people, access to in-school arts education is sporadic and uneven. Students may have access during some years and none during others or learning in or through some art forms and not others. Through the assistance of expert consultation services provided by Kennedy Center staff and consultants, community leaders develop a strategy for arts education that is tailor-made for the school district and community. Since the program’s inception, Any Given Child sites have reported numerous successes:
The partnership, now up to over 50 administrators, teachers and local leaders from 35 organizations, launched pARTners will be implementing its audacious vision and goals for Bethlehem with eyes on the future of expanding successful programs to all public-school children in the Lehigh Valley.