“When children read their first book, pick up their first instrument, or perform in their first play, they demonstrate the power of the arts to ignite wonder and imagination. This month, let us pledge to invest in America’s next generation by ensuring our children have the opportunity to participate in and enjoy the arts and humanities. If we give them the tools to create and innovate, they will do their part to disrupt our views, challenge our perceptions, and stir us to be our best selves. I call upon the people of the United States to join together in observing this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs to celebrate the arts and the humanities in America.”
— President Barack Obama
Linking learning and the arts
Throughout the month of October, communities around the country are celebrating National Arts and Humanities Month. At Sierra Arts Foundation, our diverse programs in arts and culture are present every day.
In spite of budget restraints, our community leaders and Washoe County School District recognize the relationship between the arts and learning. Together, we have maintained a commitment to growing internal resources, including arts specialists and general classroom teachers who have ongoing learning opportunities in the arts; they are also linked to carefully chosen external resources including long-term, carefully planned partnerships with organizations like Sierra Arts Foundation, The Reno Philharmonic, the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts and the Nevada Museum of Art.
Washoe County School District has continued to offer well-integrated arts experiences to their students. For Washoe County schools, administrators and faculty have recognized that art does not deter focus on the basics of learning, nor distract students from working for higher achievement.
At the same time, community organizations such as Arts for All Nevada, Note-Able Music Therapy Services, and the City of Reno Parks, Recreation and Community Services department have begun offering more and more diverse arts opportunities outside of school.
Integrating art into life
Since 1971, Sierra Arts has helped create partnerships dedicated to linking in-school and after-school efforts. We do this by helping educators, artists, parents, and community leaders build partnerships to create meaningful, sustainable arts education both in and out of school. In these partnerships each individual and organization has a specific role to play:
- Arts in education: Educators help students develop fluency in a particular art form.
- Arts integration: Classroom teachers use the arts in all their teaching to connect diverse disciplines and engage diverse learners.
- Arts experiences: Arts organizations offer performances and exhibitions and the unique perspective of practicing artists.
- Arts alternatives: Community arts centers develop rich arts experiences after school.
- Community arts: Other community-based organizations such as libraries, parks and senior centers offer additional experiences in the arts that enrich the community's overall approach.
SAF has taken a leadership role in Washoe County for more than 40 years in educating, nurturing and supporting the arts through presenting cultural events, promoting best practices in arts education, advocating for art in public places, and developing innovative arts programs as needs arise in our community.
We are lucky to live in a community that understands the importance of arts and humanities in our culture. This month, find a way to celebrate the impact of the arts with people across the nation. Make your own art, attend the theater, play an instrument, visit a gallery … the opportunities in Reno are bountiful.
Annie Zucker is executive director of the Sierra Arts Foundation.