Envision. Create. Transform.

An essay by Julia Di Bussolo ’06, ’07, Executive Director, Arts Every Day

In 2005, Baltimore was one of eight cities in the country included in the Ford Foundation’s Arts Integration and Education Reform Initiative to bring dynamic arts education programming to city middle schools. And just over a decade ago, a small group of advocates founded Arts Every Day (AED) in the hopes of answering the challenge to strengthen and expand arts education in Baltimore City Public Schools. MICA’s President Emeritus, Fred Lazarus, and MICA Board member, Anne Perkins, founded Arts Every Day along with a group of community leaders, educators and artists concerned by the lack of arts in the Baltimore City school day.

As AED prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary, it’s incredibly rewarding to see how the organization helps to empower teachers as leaders, while also providing an essential link between the schools and the city’s arts and culture community. And AED even serves as a leading voice of advocacy at the city and state levels. Each year, AED provides over $185,000 in funding and professional development to 40 Baltimore City schools — 80% of which serve high-need, low-income youth. That funding supports more than 250 arts programs, impacts over 19,000 students and 1,200 educators, and promotes over 500 teaching artists and programs.

More than 90 percent of the teachers we work with report an increased sense of confidence and leadership as a result of working with Arts Every Day. Teachers also see significant increases in student engagement, retention and ownership as they integrate the arts into other subjects.

Despite the growing body of research that shows the positive impact of the arts on learning, access to the arts across the Baltimore City School District continues to be low especially when compared to the other county districts across Maryland.

As a graduate of MICA’s Master of Arts in Community Arts program and the executive director of Arts Every Day, I am always reminded of the unique impact that MICA has on the city of Baltimore. I see the legacy of MICA written by the many graduates that stay and dedicate their passion, creativity and talent to the youth of Baltimore, whether serving as school day arts teachers, working as teaching artists or leading community arts organizations. Arts education faculty members serve as local arts education advocates and remain connected to their graduates working in the field often serving as lifelong mentors as we make our way as professionals.

With the many challenges the Baltimore City School District faces, I am heartened by the community of advocates, organizations and artists working to make the arts accessible to every student in every school every day.

This year, AED celebrated 10 years of bringing art to Baltimore City Public Schools with a two-day anniversary event at the Baltimore Design School, on March 10–11. The celebration kicked off with an awards reception to recognize the individuals and organizations that have made an impact on the arts in Baltimore City Schools over the last 10 years. The second day featured a symposium, Envision. Create. Transform: Baltimore Youth Through the Arts, which convened a cross-section of teachers, administrators and artists to discuss the state of arts education in Baltimore and address how we can prepare for the next generation of creative thinkers in the city.

For more information, visit www.artseveryday.org/anniversary

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