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Jazz & Heritage Foundation Helps New Orleans Win Prestigious Planning Grant For Arts Education

Jazz & Heritage Foundation Helps New Orleans Win Prestigious Planning Grant For Arts Education


The Kennedy Center launched the Ensuring the Arts Any Given Child program in 2009 to help cities address the increasingly urgent need to restore arts education in the schools, which too often is the first item to be cut when budgets get tight. To date, Any Given Child has helped 15 cities establish successful plans to reestablish meaningful arts education in K-8 schools.

In New Orleans, many arts educators and advocates have been working for years to increase the amount of arts education available to our children. The effort is especially challenging because of the decentralized school system in New Orleans, where more than 90 percent of public school students attend independently-run charter schools.

"The cultural economy of New Orleans is more important now than ever. Our culture serves as the backbone of who we are as a community and the cultural economy injects millions of dollars into our city,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “Any Given Child provides New Orleans with an opportunity to collaborate on an educational future that includes a strong emphasis on the arts – supporting 21st Century learning skills students need to succeed in a global society, as well as the rich cultural heritage that defines our city."

New Orleans’s Any Given Child project was initiated by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, KID smART, Tulane University’s Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives, the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA) and Artist Corps.

Any Given Child demonstrates the need and ability for stakeholders throughout the city to join hands to support an education that includes the arts.

“New Orleans is known for its vibrant music community and rich culture. This initiative brings together leadership throughout the city, who will work together to ensure that children in the participating schools receive learning experiences and opportunities in the arts from kindergarten through eighth grade,” said Kennedy Center Vice President of Education Darrell M. Ayers. “An ongoing, consistent arts education improves students’ intellectual, personal, and social development.”

The first phase of the program is a comprehensive audit of existing arts education resources and needs assessment by Kennedy Center staff and consultants, in collaboration with a committee of local leaders.  Based on this information, a plan is created to bring more access to arts education for all K-8 students.

Phase one of Any Given Child is funded by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy.

“The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation is proud to support this initiative on every level,” said Demetric Mercadel, President of the Board of Directors of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, which is the nonprofit that owns the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell. “Every student in New Orleans deserves access to top-quality arts education, and we will do our part to help make sure that they get it.”

Phase one meetings begin in New Orleans on Sept. 23. In January, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation will host a public forum to explain the planning process and gather community input.

During phase two of the program, a committee of community members will make recommendations to the schools and local arts groups on how to best implement the plan, focusing on increasing arts opportunities for K-8 students.  In addition, educators and artists can take advantage of on-line and professional development resources available from the Kennedy Center. The goal of this second phase is to provide a tapestry of arts education, strategically weaving together existing arts resources within the schools with those available from community providers and the Kennedy Center in order to reach every child.

Since the program’s inception, Any Given Child sites have reported numerous successes: new sources of funding for arts education have been established; communities have expanded arts offerings for students; some school districts have hired additional teachers or added staff positions; and sites have provided professional learning for classroom teachers, arts specialists, and local arts organizations to build their capacity to deliver high quality arts education to students.

Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child is funded by David and Alice Rubenstein, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support provided by David Gregory and Beth Wilkinson; the President's Advisory Committee on the Arts; and the U.S. Department of Education.

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.