This Thanksgiving, when you're thinking about everything you're grateful for, don't forget to give thanks for your arts education. Many children today do not have access to adequate arts education, which expands creativity and leads to increased job opportunities.
Arts education advocates had a big moment last week when Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) added an amendment to the rewrite of the nation’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), integrating the arts into STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math). Learn more about this important legislation.
In a recent op-ed in the Houston Chronicle, Manolo Sanchez, CEO of 2014 BCA 10 honoree BBVA Compass, argues on behalf of arts education and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math). "Exposure to the arts - to the endless possibilities of exploration in music, art, dance, drama - has the power to spark the kind of creativity that can lead to student achievement across many disciplines. It helps kids learn how to take intellectual risks and to dig deep into their brains to make complex connections," he says.
In this op-ed, Sanchez introduces a new musicians-in-residence program at Crespo Elementary School in Southeast Houston, a joint venture by the Houston Independent School District and Houston Symphony, with support from BBVA Compass. Crespo is a fine arts magnet school with a student population that's 95 percent economically disadvantaged and 97 percent Hispanic.The program is inspired by a "time-tested and respected initiative pioneered by the New York Philharmonic." According to Sanchez, "two Community Embedded Musicians from the Houston Symphony will teach third-, fourth- and fifth-graders about the power of classical music, reaching more than 400 economically disadvantaged students each year."
Sanchez claims, "Studies have found that students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds were significantly more likely to excel in math if they'd had music education. Non-native English speakers are also able to pick up the language faster through the use of music."
"It's in the private sector's interest to step up and fund arts initiatives. It's good corporate citizenship, but it's also smart business," Sanchez asserts. "Those who do will be helping to bring the magic of the arts to students who might otherwise be unable to experience it, yes. But they're also helping build the kind of workforce that sees the world in innovative new ways - a critical skill for this 21st century."
Photo: Manolo Sanchez at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. BBVA Compass and the BBVA Compass Foundation sponsored an exhibition from Dec. 16, 2012, through March 31, 2013, of more than 100 European paintings from Madrid’s famed Museo del Prado at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – the first time a collection of its size was ever shown outside of Spain.