Kennedy Center Selects Sarasota for Any Given Child Initiative

Posted on July 20, 2011 by Laurey Stryker, Ed.D., Digital Access for All Initiative Manager

By Robert Warren, Any Given Child Community Arts Leadership

Kennedy Center Vice President of Education Darrell Ayers  announced that Sarasota was chosen as the sixth partner city for Any Given Child, a program that creates a long-range arts education plan for students in grades K – 8.

“We look at the communities that have the greatest assets and the best potential," Ayers said. "The selection committee was very impressed with the quality of arts activity in Sarasota, the positive attitude of the school system and the community toward the importance of arts and arts education.”

Mirroring The Patterson Foundation’s Cultural Connections with Students Initiative, the Any Given Child Advisors will work with community and school leaders to design, develop and implement an Arts Education Program that leverages currently available assets to create an innovative sustainable program unique to Sarasota.  The Kennedy Center team and The Patterson Foundation staff hope that this successful model can then be used and adapted to fit other communities.

According to Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser, “Sarasota is home to a wealth of vibrant arts organizations, and I commend Mayor Suzanne Atwell, Superintendant Lori White, and the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall for their commitment to enhancing the lives of Sarasota students.”

Sarasota County School Superintendent Lori M. White added that The Kennedy Center partnership will help to expand the school district's commitment to ensuring that every child in the district shares in the cultural and artistic opportunities Sarasota has to offer.

Too often a child’s arts education is episodic and uneven. Unlike other subjects, such as math – which is taught sequentially and offered each year – music, drama, dance, and visual arts may be taught one year and not the next. Some students have access to music or visual arts teachers but not all do, and most have absolutely no access to drama or dance instruction. Any Given Child seeks to bring access, balance, and equity to each child’s arts education by using an affordable model that combines the resources of the school district, local arts groups, and the Kennedy Center.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity to enhance the value of arts education in our schools and our community,” said Sarasota Mayor Suzanne Atwell.

Sarasota joins a very elite group of cities participating in Any Given Child including: Sacramento, California; Springfield, Missouri; Portland, Oregon; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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