By Kyle A. Lee
People attending the first Kentucky Arts Summit in June heard one message loud and clear – the arts are alive and well in Kentucky.
The theme of the two-day event in Owensboro was “Arts Education: Empowering Individuals, Schools and Communities.” It was sponsored by the Kentucky Coalition for Arts Education in partnership with the Kentucky Department of Education, Owensboro public schools, Daviess County public schools, Kentucky Music Educators Association and the Owensboro RiverPark Center.
In delivering his keynote address, Kentucky Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt said arts are crucial to the education of the whole child. Access to the arts, he said, is on his mind as Kentucky works on a new accountability system in response to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
“I think we should ensure in our new accountability system that opportunity is something that schools are being held accountable for,” Pruitt said. “I want us to be able to have the opportunity to say, ‘Well, it’s actually in the accountability system that we expect the kids are going to have an opportunity, we are going to expect that kids have access to the visual and performing arts.’”
At one roundtable, two local superintendents and Pruitt discussed how the building of partnerships between districts and schools could strengthen the quality of arts opportunities for students. The Owensboro Independent school district has a vision that stresses the importance of arts – Every Art for Every Child in Every School. For the past 17 years, the school board and district leadership have worked diligently to build a comprehensive arts program.
“The district’s arts partnerships build our community by offering meaningful professional experiences for our students and access for artists,” said Tom Stites, arts director of Owensboro Independent. “Every student knows their art is valued, not marginalized in Owensboro.”
Attendees also heard presentations on the new Kentucky Academic Standards for the Arts, updates on Program Reviews, how ESSA will impact the arts and examples of high quality arts programs in the Commonwealth.
“I’m so excited to see where the arts are headed in the state,” said by Jean St. John, education director for the Kentucky Arts Council. “This weekend really offered me a breath of fresh air. I feel as though a weight has been lifted and I’ve been granted a renewed sense of energy.”
If you were unable to attend this year’s Kentucky Arts Summit, make plans to attend next year’s event. Information about the event will be posted as it becomes available.
MORE INFO …
Click here to view Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt’s entire keynote address.