It’s no secret that parents face a huge challenge due to the COVID 19 virus crisis. Learning to home school while balancing the psychosocial needs of a family, and the responsibilities of work can become untenable. And for some parents, there are the added burdens of inequitable access to the Internet, coupled with the challenge of finding food for their families. These factors have increased the risk of students falling behind in critical stages of their education.
Whether online or in-person, cognitive neuroscientists at seven major universities have found strong links between arts education and cognitive development (e.g. thinking, problem-solving, concept understanding, information processing and overall intelligence.) According to the Dana Consortium study, Learning, Arts, and the Brain (2008) children motivated in the arts develop attention skills and memory retrieval that also apply to other subject areas. All students deserve access to arts education.
To ensure that Baltimore students can access arts education during this time, organizations like Young Audiences are seeking to ameliorate the digital divide through partnerships with Baltimore City Schools, teaching artists, and collectives like Futuremakers. In addition to being available on their website, programs like Snack are now being distributed at 18 meal sites (which have the ability to reach 9,000 families) and Kids on Channel 77.
Arts Everyday is helping its partner schools with financial support for things like purchasing take-home art supplies or adapting artist residencies for the virtual classroom space. Independent artists are being contracted to create short, easy-to-follow arts instructional videos using a phone-based app called Jumprope. Additionally, AED will soon launch the Baltimore Artist Series - a video and print educational resource highlighting Baltimore-based artists and musicians. In order to ensure that the creative education force is maintaining an open dialogue, Arts Everyday is hosting: IDEAS Exchange to convene educators, teaching artists, and arts organizations for idea sharing and collaborative planning. The IDEAS Exchange for Arts Organizations will be held on Thursday, April 30 @ 3-4pm and IDEAS Exchange for Teaching Artists Friday, May 1 @ 3-4pm. Please feel free to register here.
Speaking of our amazing creative education force, Arts Education in Maryland Schools (AEMS) and the Maryland Department of Education’s Fine Arts Office, have recently launched the EMBRACE initiative. The EMBRACE initiative will include both a professional development series and podcast for Maryland’s creative education force. Expert facilitators will examine the intersections of art and wellness by exploring creative practices to keep creative educators open, curious and reflective during COVID-19. AEMS has also curated several resource lists for families, arts educators, and teaching artists. Offerings include Baltimore Center Stage’s Theatre Camp at Home and Teach from Home tools.
Speaking of online learning, are you looking for online arts learning events? Through the Culture Fly calendar, GBCA is expanding its listings of online learning events to amplify and support our member organizations in promoting their new online learning material. Culturefly is currently hosting learning events and resources from organizations such as Port Discovery Children’s Museum, Everyman Theatre, Maryland Historical Society, and many more.
I hope you will join me in continuing to stay home.
P.S. You can also help support the work of GBCA by following this link to our secure online giving page.