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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. 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 joining other cities including Portland, Austin, Sacramento, Tulsa, Springfield, Las Vegas, and Sarasota. Currently twenty-three cities have been selected as Any Given Child sites. The Any Given Child IC initiative focuses on the Iowa City Community School District serving students in North Liberty, Coralville, and Iowa City.
The program is a partnership of the Iowa City School District, The University of Iowa’s Hancher Auditorium, and the Kennedy Center. Hancher facililitated the collaboration that led to the selection of Iowa City for the Any Given Child program. Iowa City is the one of the smallest cities in the program, but boasts many robust arts education programs taking place in the district. However, gaps were identified in its initial survey.
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 continue to provide guidance in moving the district forward to meet goals of engaging more students in arts education. This ongoing initiative supports 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 school district and community are quickly learning about the resources available in the area and connecting them to enrich students’ lives.