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Member Spotlight…Cultural Council of Palm Beach County

Posted By Sophia Raymond, Tuesday, September 25, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nonprofits are doing extraordinary work in Palm Beach County. They are part of the fabric of our community — they protect, feed, heal, shelter, educate and nurture bodies and spirits of tens of thousands of residents, every single day.

 

Too often, their achievements fall under the radar. And so, Nonprofits First is showcasing some of the organizations and the differences they are making to improve our county.

 

Here is the story of one of them: Cultural Council of Palm Beach County -- which enhances the quality of life and economic growth of the community by creating a cultural destination through support, education and promotion of arts and culture. (Cultural Council is a member of Nonprofits First.)

 

 

 

For years, Palm Beach County schools have cut creative arts classes, mirroring a national trend to focus students toward “employable” subjects like math and science.

 

That’s a major concern for art advocates.

 

Research shows that art studies and activities help keep high-risk dropout students in school --and music, in particularly, not only improves skills in math and reading, but it promotes creativity, social development, personality adjustment, and self-worth.

 

Now what?

 

Here’s good news: as a result of squeezing the arts out of many school, our member, Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, started a new program to bring the arts and culture to children and families outside of traditional school classrooms.

 

Their Arts in My Backyard (AIMBY) program, kicked off in 2016, expanded arts instruction across the community by bringing arts educators and arts-related programming to the Council’s headquarters in downtown Lake Worth and pairing arts educators and their programs with designated schools and afterschool programs in Palm Beach County.

 

It’s part of the Council’s long-term vision: arts education is a proven factor in student achievement and workforce readiness for the 21st century.

 

“Our program provides opportunities for youth and families to engage with the visual and performing arts, along with providing exposure for partner cultural organizations to the education community,” said Ericka Squire, the Council’s manager of Arts and Cultural Education.

 

School districts have been slashing arts programs for years – for two main reasons. There’s been funding cuts to balance budgets. And there’s been shifts towards standardized testing and the common core subjects of reading and math.

 

Those decisions, though, have consequences, especially for underserved children: research from the National Endowment for the Arts reports that low-income high school students who earned few or no arts credits were five times more likely not to graduate from high school than low-income students who earned many arts credits.

 

And so Cultural Council’s AIMBY was developed to inspire children, as well as adults, to create and express themselves in a variety of forms. The arts education program comprises of five branches: Outreach, Field Trips, Afterschool, Early Learners and Family Saturdays.

 

Family Saturdays, for instance, aims for families to discover the arts together through visual art, dance, and theater. Upcoming sessions are: Food as Art (Oct. 13); Processional Arts Workshop (Nov. 10); and Thankful Expressions (Dec. 1). See more Family Saturday events here.

 

So far, the program is doing well -- attendance is consistent, and feedback indicates participants are satisfied, Squire said. (AIMBY programs, except Early Learners, are generously underwritten by the Celia Lipton Farris and Victor W. Farris Foundation, The Batchelor Foundation and Jim and Irene Karp. AIMBY Early Learners is generously underwritten by Christine and Bob Stiller.)

 

Will arts and cultural programs make a comeback in schools in the near future? It’s hard to know.

 

What’s clear is that the Cultural Council will continue planning and supporting programs that will keep children and adults engaged in the arts and allow them to have fun while exploring the world through different art forms.

 

Everyone in our community needs the arts, whether they realize it or not. Squire explains it better: “The simple creative activities and modes of exploration cultivated by the arts form the building blocks of child development, leading to healthy social interactions now and later in life.”

 

If you have any questions regarding the Cultural Council’s education programs, contact Ericka Squire: (561) 472-3347 or esquire@palmbeachculture.com.

 

If your nonprofit has a great story to tell, contact Charlotte Gill at Nonprofits First: (561) 910-3891 or cgill@nonprofitsfirst.org.

Tags:  Arts  Cultural Council  Nonprofit Philanthropy 

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