Five Years of Arts Education for Any Given Child

Wednesday, October 5, 2016.

Since Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child Southern Nevada launched five years ago, students and teachers at Robert Lunt Elementary School have had many new experiences, Principal Thelma Davis said on Tuesday.

Students who never heard of a musical before have now been to matinees at The Smith Center, for instance. Teachers who had trouble engaging students now have their classrooms’ full attention, after training on integrating arts into their lessons.

“Without the Southern Nevada Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child initiative, this opportunity (for arts integration) would be just out of reach,” Davis said.

She was just one of many to praise Any Given Child’s widespread impact on Tuesday, during a special event at The Smith Center honoring the program’s fifth anniversary in Southern Nevada.

Other event attendees included Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Elaine Wynn, Clark County School District (CCSD) Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky, and Mario Rossero, senior vice president of education at the Kennedy Center. Representatives were also present from the many organizations on the Community Arts Team that helped launch the Southern Nevada program.

Provided by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Any Given Child assists communities nationwide in creating strategic plans to ensure access and equity to quality arts education for local students.

“The Kennedy Center created something really special that we get to be a part of,” Smith Center CEO and President Myron Martin said during the event. “Las Vegas was an early city to take this on, so we’re proud of that.”

In December 2010, Las Vegas became the fourth city nationwide to participate in Any Given Child. To roll out this initiative, the Community Arts Team comprised of local arts and education-related organizations collected a year of data and formed a corresponding strategy.

The program has since expanded to 23 cities, Rossero said, but Las Vegas remains the largest Any Given Child program in the U.S.

He lauded the efforts of Candy Schneider, president of Education and Outreach at The Smith Center, as well as the Community Arts Team in making the program successful.

“This is a big deal,” Rossero said. “This fifth anniversary really means a lot and you’ve accomplished a lot.”

In the 2011-12 fiscal year, the Southern Nevada program kicked off with 26 pilot CCSD schools and approximately 18,000 students being served with arts resources, as well as 85 teachers participating in arts-integrated professional development workshops.

By the 2015-16 fiscal year, this had expanded to approximately 143,000 students from 356 CCSD, charter and private schools being served with arts resources, and 884 teachers participating in professional development workshops.

The arts resources schools have enjoyed include: field trips to venues throughout the community, artist residencies and in-school performances, and professional development for teachers to integrate the arts into math, science, language arts and social studies.

Community organizations have provided all of these resources free of charge.

Speaking in her role as president of the Nevada State Board of Education, Wynn praised the success of the program and how it plants seeds of inspiration among local children.

“Maybe (Southern Nevada Any Given Child) will serve as a blueprint for other places as it continues to unfold,” she said.

Recalling how much he was impacted by seeing theatrical productions as a child, Skorkowsky said the program has helped develop CCSD into a leader in fine arts education.

“We have to build that passion in our children and expose them to those opportunities,” he said.

That will hopefully continue as a result of the Community Arts Team behind the program. Organizations on this team include: Organizations on the Community Arts Team behind the program include: After-School All Stars, CCSD, the city of Henderson, the Las Vegas Office of Cultural Affairs, Clark County Parks and Recreation, Discovery Children’s Museum, Las Vegas Arts Commission, Las Vegas Youth Orchestras, Metro Arts Council of Southern Nevada, Nevada Ballet Theatre, Nevada School of the Arts, The Public Education Foundation, The Rainbow Company Youth Theatre, West Las Vegas Arts Center, The Smith Center, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, The Kennedy Center, the Nevada Arts Council and principal leadership from CVT Gilbert and Frank Lamping elementary schools.

Mayor Goodman lauded how these organizations have come together to bring the arts to local students of many age groups.

“I can assure you the city is fully supportive of and behind the arts,” she said. “Especially this program.”

For more information about Any Given Child, visit http://www.thesmithcenter.com/education/ensuring-the-arts-for-any-given-child/.

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