Arts to Grow

Arts to Grow works with schools and community organizations in the NY/NJ metro area to provide art programs that change children's lives, inspiring them to love to learn and helping them discover their personal, intrinsic motivation.

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    Innovative Educational Program ‘Hi Art!’ Immerses Little Kids In High Art (PHOTOS)

    By Priscilla Frank in Huffington Post 

    Most educational programs, even those with solid art programs, portray art as a reprieve from homework and arithmetic. Frivolous and fun, art is a way to decorate the realities of learning, growing up and living. But not this program. "Hi Art!” exposes kids to opera and other forms of high art starting at toddlerdom. A bold mission, it’s true, but a hugely successful one thus far. In its 15 years of running the program has become one of the most talked-about in New York.

    Cyndie Bellen-Berthézène, “Hi Art!”s founder and director, said, “Great art transmits something that is essentially human.” It doesn’t just color our lives, it has the power to be at the core of how we live. Although when I think of opera we tend to think of a stodgy, elderly woman with teeny binoculars and white gloves, at its core opera is pure human expression. The words, the costumes, the sets, all take the back seat to an indescribable momentum and feeling. What is more accessible than that?

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    The Power of Art

    By Paul Klein in Huffington Post 

    Dawoud Bey’s career and art exemplify the power of art. While a teenager living in New York, the now Chicago-based artist went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the noise and demonstrations regarding the highly controversial Harlem on My Mind show. But when he got there nothing was going on outdoors, so instead he went to see the show. This was the first time the young Bey, as well as a lot of white folks of northern European heritage, had ever seen black subject matter in a museum. He was particularly moved by the signifcant work of James Van Der Zee (who if it weren’t for this show would probably have been lost to history.)

    Dawoud Bey got a camera from a relative and began to shoot. Just eight years later he had a one-person show of his own at the Studio Museum of Harlem — which is now on exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. And at the Renaissance Society, opening Sunday is a survey of Bey’s work since then; most often pictures of youths of color who look directly into the lens, and because of the remarkable man behind the camera who is gentle, powerful, trusting and trusted, reveal themselves.

    Vera Klement is an octogenarian kid, with the knowledge, wisdom and talent of her years and the energy, output and enthusiasm of someone a quarter of her age. She is a remarkably gifted painter whose work continues to grow — as is apparent in her show opening tonight at Zolla/Lieberman.Her sectioned paintings are like symphonies of self-contained movements that contribute to a larger whole. The poignant beauty of her work references literature, history and us.

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    By George Heymont in Huffington Post 

    Harvey Weinstein’s recent battle to secure a PG-13 rating for Bully was a classic example of film industry power brokers attacking the messenger instead of heeding the message. Whatever crude language may have been included in the original edit of the film was language being spewed by kids who feel compelled to attack those they perceive as vulnerable targets….


    With today’s youth spending so much time playing violent video games — and action movies aimed at a demographic of teenage boys who like to see things explode and watch people get beaten up — it should be obvious that poor parenting can’t be the only factor contributing to a nation of adolescent thugs.

    Whether kids see bullying as a way to prove their superiority, exert their newfound masculinity, or simply as an opportunity for comic relief at someone else’s expense, it’s important to understand that bullying is nothing new. Even after college hazing rituals have resulted in accidental deaths and numerous gay teens have committed suicide, many parents and school administrators cling to the misguided belief that being the victim of bullying “is all part of growing up.”

    Herndon Graddick, the new President of GLAAD recalls that:

    "It wasn’t until I left Alabama for California that I learned that everything I had been taught was essentially bullshit. I got pissed. Kids across the country are making themselves miserable and, frankly, leading themselves to the brink of suicide because of the bullshit they learn from a bigoted society and it’s the role of GLAAD to fix that. We’re no longer the silent sort of invisible presence in our community. My ambition is for gay people and transgender people to be treated fairly in the media just like anybody else. I think it’s finally time for us to grab our power and really use it to make sure that we’re not sort of treated as second-class citizens anymore. I think it’s time for our community to go on the offensive. We’re not going to be the punching bags anymore."

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    ED Releases New Report on Arts Education in U.S. Public Schools

    By Cameron Brenchley in Ed.gov 

     The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), part of the U.S. Department of Education, released the findings of the first nationwide arts survey in a decade that comprehensively documents the state of arts education in U.S. public schools.

    At the announcement, Secretary Arne Duncan pointed to the importance of the report because it allows us to compare changes in arts education over time, and it’s the first survey that enables us to get a clear sense of how the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law has affected arts education.

    “It’s a good news, bad news story,” according to Secretary Duncan.  On the one hand, there have not been significant national declines in the availability of music and visual arts instruction in elementary and secondary schools. However, for theater and dance in elementary schools, the percentages of schools making these art forms available went from 20 percent 10 years ago to only 4 and 3 percent, respectively, in the 2009-10 school year.  In addition, at more than 40 percent of secondary schools, coursework in arts was not required for graduation in the 2009-10 school year.

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    Remodeling Education: It Takes a Community

    By Nicolas Donohue in Huffigton Post

    Every Friday, a group of students from Deering High School in Portland, Maine volunteers through their local Habitat for Humanity affiliate for credit toward graduation. While helping to build houses for people in need, these students are learning important math and geometry skills. They are also learning valuable skills outside of the traditional classroom setting, like how to be professional on a job-site and work collaboratively with adults. Furthermore, should any student take more than a passing interest in this work, they can explore what opportunities are available to them beyond high school to pursue a career in a related field.

    This robust learning experience is one of many examples of how students can benefit from a multi-dimensional approach to education called student-centered approaches to learning that not only arms them with basic knowledge, but better equips them for college, work, and life.

    Much has changed in the last 100 years, but not the way we look at K-12 education. Our system is outdated and the “one-size-fits-all” approach is no longer working and in need of remodeling. Global competition has really elevated the standards for schooling, and if we expect to continue to meet the economic and civic demands of the new 21st century economy, we need more learners achieving at higher levels. As Tom Friedman notes in his book That Used to Be Us, we are no longer competing with other states or cities in the U.S.; we are competing with China and India and Brazil. A fundamental rethinking of our educational system is in order to ensure that all learners achieve the skills and knowledge necessary for our nation and region to prosper.

    The good news is that we don’t have to start from scratch — we can strengthen what’s working and fix what’s not. One solution is to focus more on high-quality, student-centered approaches to learning that acknowledge all the ways young people acquire skills and digest information, and incorporate them into educational opportunities that benefit all students — especially those in underserved communities. This model puts students at the center of the educational design, where the act of learning becomes the constant; and the where, when and how learning is delivered become the variables (rather than students conforming to one specific time, location and method). Of course, a critical component to this approach is to assess the level of impact it has on a student’s ability to learn the right skills, and use that information to continually improve and be more creative in terms of how our goals are accomplished.

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