A Camp Trophy Sets Path for Creativity

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I won. I got the award for arts and crafts at Triangle Acres summer day camp. It was a very happy day for me.

“Uncle” Harry, my arts counselor, said he was proud of me because I tried everything, never gave up and had a great attitude.

I have never forgotten Uncle Harry. He influenced my life that summer at camp and for the years to follow. He inspired me to think outside the box and to never be afraid of big goals.

Like so many in my generation, we had art in school and in every youth-related program. It makes me incredibly sad that art is cut out so much these days.

The beautiful lobbies of our Bay Area high tech campuses, banks, law firms, venture capital firms, even hospitals, display incredible artwork. Our museums are amazing. Private collections are so impressive. Art seems to be everywhere…except in our schools. Where will the future generations of artists come from? Why is art not recognized as an intrinsic, integrated and vital part of education? Who will be the next Picasso or even Steve Jobs creating innovative products that are truly works of art?

Why do classrooms have their doors closed to art? Where is the outcry? This is not okay.

It’s time for a Movement powered by Art in Action because…

EVERY child deserves art and that is our ultimate goal.

Art is transformative and makes us all smarter, healthier and happier human beings.

We believe that kids flourish when imagination and creativity drive learning.

Art is just plain fun.

Over the next five years we are determined to work with a coalition of arts advocates, philanthropists, educators, business leaders, docents, parents, public and private sectors and anyone else who cares to build the creative confidence to prepare today’s students to become tomorrow’s innovators.

The reasons we are doing this are clear:

● Art improves reading and math proficiency.
● Art increases parent/teacher involvement and student engagement; creates a positive culture and climate; and provides a richer overall experience in extended learning time.
● Art enhances critical thinking strategies and develops 21st-century skills like problem solving, collaboration, communication and life-long learning.

It’s every bit as important at STEM…and its time that everyone realizes it.

So how about this goal: Today we serve 68,000 students in 500 schools and organizations, 42% of whom are from low-income, Title I schools. Let’s plan on serving 250,000 students by 2021. It’s doable, and here’s how.

We will reach out to donors, corporations and foundations for funding. It’s time for us to start thinking of raising millions to make this happen. We will improve and continue to sell more of our revenue-based Common Core standard services, adding a staffing component, new digital options and art/science programs, along with our excellent visual arts. We will also create programs for pre-schools and after-school programs. We will partner with online education providers. And we will assist any school that already has an art program in place to develop its own internal capacity to incorporate principles of this Movement. We will leverage our expertise to audit and strengthen their curriculum, engage more parents, supplement lessons, certify and credential teachers and assist in fundraising efforts. We will reach out to major academic institutions to help research how art should be taught in schools in the next decade.

It’s time to make this happen. We are all in this together.

Stay tuned for more details of the plan and let me know what you think.

By the way, my art award trophy from camp is on the shelf at home. It’s still very cool.

Ken Toren, Interim Executive Director