Crystal Bridges garners $15 million for arts-based initiatives to improve education

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 207 views 

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville has introduced a program that will identify problems in schools and apply arts-based solutions to them, the museum announced Friday (May 19). The program is supported by the Windgate Educational Excellence through the Arts Endowed Fund, established by a $15 million gift from the Windgate Charitable Foundation.

“The initiatives will focus on quality education, arts access, learning readiness and workforce skills with an emphasis on underrepresented and lower socio-economic youth” and will be overseen by the Windgate Advisory Board, composed of advisers from throughout the country and chaired by Jane Best, director of the Arts Education Partnership in Washington, D.C., according to a Crystal Bridges press release.

“Crystal Bridges is uniquely positioned to make a difference in a child’s well-rounded education,” Best said in the release. “This investment from the Windgate Foundation and an advisory board with respective expertise in arts, education, research, and public policy, help Crystal Bridges rise to the challenge of ensuring that all children have access to the arts in learning.“

Other members of the 2017-18 Windgate Advisory Board includes Sarah Cunningham, executive director for research at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts and founding director of the Arts Research Institute; David Dik, national executive director of Young Audiences Arts for Learning; Jean Hendrickson, Oklahoma A+ Schools director emeritus; Sage Morgan-Hubbard, Ford W. Bell Fellow for Museums & P-12 Education at the American Alliance of Museums; Deborah Reeve, executive director of the National Art Education Association; Mario Rossero, senior vice president for education at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; and Sherman Whites, director of education initiatives at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

At the board’s first meeting May 10, the board decided to focus the first Windgate Fund project on the School Partnership Program, a multi-year collaboration that in its first year will focus on professional development for teachers, teaching artists residencies and field trip experiences for schools from throughout the country to promote art as a support for social and emotional development and to academic outcomes, according to the release.

“We believe the arts are essential for improving social-emotional development, creativity, and critical thinking for students,“ Anne Kraybill, director of education and research in learning at Crystal Bridges, said in the release. “The Windgate Fund will empower Crystal Bridges to explore innovative solutions to issues facing students and move museums from the periphery to the center of that conversation.”

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