Today the Mayor announced that the city of Seattle will deepen their partnership with the school district to invest in arts education.
Investment dollars will ensure that every student in the Central Pathway of Seattle Public Schools receive a minimum of two hours per week of arts education programming, as well as support the purchase of instruments and other art supplies for classrooms. The Central Pathway, which consists of schools in and around Seattle’s Central District, was chosen due to strong existing partnerships with community-based arts education organizations. The eventual goal of the program is to expand the program each year until all students at Seattle Public Schools receive two hours per week of arts education programming by 2020.
This investment was made possible by higher than expected admission tax revenue, primarily due to the new cultural facilities Chihuly Garden & Glass at Seattle Center and the Great Wheel on the waterfront. City bylaws require that 75 percent of admissions tax funding be dedicated to arts-related programming, allowing the city to invest $500,000 in arts education programs over the next two years.
“This investment will allow us to deepen our existing partnership with Seattle Public Schools to improve access to arts education for all students in our community” said Mayor McGinn. “Arts education has been consistently shown to improve educational outcomes, increase attendance rates and decrease discipline rates.”
Studies have found that Seattle students do not have consistent access to arts education, and access can be predicted based on ethnicity, English-language-learner status or free-and-reduced-lunch status.
This investment builds on the innovative partnership between the city of Seattle and Seattle Public Schools (SPS), now called The Creative Advantage. In 2011 the city and SPS received a Wallace Foundation planning grant of $1 million, which provided for the creation of a comprehensive K-12 arts plan that ensures that every student will receive 120 minutes of arts instruction per week. This investment kick-starts the implementation phase of the Creative Advantage.
“Our community has spent the last two years developing and writing this plan, and the time is now to make it a reality,” said Superintendent Jose Banda. “Our first investment area is the Central Pathway.”
“Furthering our work in arts education is the most important thing I can do in this job,” said newly appointed Director Randy Engstrom, Office of Arts & Culture. “This initiative will change the way nearly 50,000 of our city’s young citizens engage with their community and think about the world. This investment is a major turning point.”