For a city its size, Madison has a thriving arts community. And all artists start out as students in the schools. But it doesn’t take an Einstein (or a Yo-Yo Ma) to note that a student in the Allied Drive neighborhood doesn’t have the same exposure to the arts as a Shorewood kid.
Now, amid a growing consensus that the arts are a critical element of educational success, Madison has become a demonstration city for boosting access to arts education for all students.
In July, the Washington, D.C.-based Kennedy Center designated Madison as the 12th Any Given Child city, following in the footsteps of Austin, Baltimore, Portland (Ore.) and Sacramento. As the first step in a two- to three-year process, the Kennedy Center has already partnered with the Madison Metropolitan School District, the city of Madison and the Overture Center to convene a new Community Arts Team, charged with improving “access and equity” to arts education for all K-8 students in the Madison schools.
“There are certain communities around the United States that realize the arts are as important as the other areas,” said Kennedy Center vice president Darrell Ayers at a July press conference in Madison that announced the initiative. “We can ensure that every child in the school system, not just those who can afford it, can have the arts in their classroom.”