Iowa City, IA – On Tuesday, October 8 at a press conference, the Iowa City Community School District announced a new program to strengthen arts education for students in the District. Any Given Child, a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., is designed to assist a community in planning strategically to provide an equitable arts education for all students in grades K-8. Superintendent Murley states, “the program’s goal is to strategically align the existing resources of the school district, the local arts community, and the Kennedy Center—all to benefit students’ education. “
Iowa City was selected in 2012 as the eighth Any Given Child site. Other cities include Portland, Austin, Tulsa, Springfield, Las Vegas, Sarasota and Sacramento. The University of Iowa’s Hancher is a key partner in the Iowa City endeavor, facilitating the collaboration that led to the selection of Iowa City for the Any Given Child program. “Hancher and so many of our peer organizations here in Iowa’s Creative Corridor have been deeply committed to arts education in our schools for many years, said Executive Director Chuck Swanson. The Any Given Child program gives this community the opportunity to strengthen those efforts even more. We are pleased and honored that the Kennedy Center has welcomed Iowa City to the Any Given Child ranks. We look forward to working with the Kennedy Center and the arts organizations in our community.”
The Iowa City Community School District is another important partner in the program. Iowa City is the smallest city in the program, but boasts many robust arts education programs taking place in the district. However, gaps exist. “I’m extremely pleased that the Iowa City Community School District will be partnering with Hancher and the Kennedy Center for the Any Given Child initiative. Creativity and critical thinking are two essential 21st century skills that our students will develop through this initiative. We also know that participation in these programs will develop lifelong participants in the arts. We are excited for this opportunity to create a more comprehensive and balanced arts education program for all Iowa City students,” said Superintendent Stephen Murley.
From September 2012 to May 2013, a local Any Given Child team composed of school district administrators, arts organizations, artists, and community leaders met, and with the Kennedy Center’s guidance, completed an audit of arts activities and resources at the school district, surveying arts organization and artists, and analyzing the data. The team found that Iowa City schools are rich in arts resources, but are not necessarily balanced from school to school or in every discipline. For example, there is a need for more resources in grades K-2 and 7-8, in addition to offering more opportunities in dance and theatre.
The team has developed a long-range plan for Iowa City to create a more balanced and equitable arts education for every child in the district. The community arts team is excited to share the results of the project’s first phase and is moving into a new structure to reach goals outlined in the long-range plan. This ongoing initiative will support a rich, enlightening arts education program for students in grades K-8, serving as a model for arts education to other schools in the area. The team is in the process of hiring a coordinator for this program who will oversee the coordination of arts experiences. To learn more or to provide support for the program visit www.anygivenchildic.org. Donations will be accepted through the Iowa City Community School District Foundation.