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Acts of Achievement: The Role of Performing Arts Centers in Education

October 17, 200517 October 2005

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As part of their evolving role as community centres, performing arts centres are being expected to develop more programs that address local needs, “especially those involving the economy and education”. This report, based on a national forum on the issue of performing arts centres in education, argues that performing arts centres play a “critical role in developing a capable, caring citizenry”.

While a recent survey found that over three-quarters of performing arts centres were using “programs and performances for K-12 as an audience-development strategy”, the report argues that the best education programs are focussed on student learning rather than audience development.

The report encourages leaders of performing arts centres to contribute to the development of a system “that provides continuous support for the arts … as part of school-based and community-based activities”. This development includes the mapping of arts resources and school needs, the identification of funding and coordination mechanisms as well as the development of governing structures to ensure high-quality practice.

The report also examines the factors for success in artist residencies, the preparation of teaching artists, and the professional development opportunities for “K-12 leaders, including teachers, principals, superintendents, school board members, and others”. The report highlights the potential next steps for centres wanting to develop, expand or improve education programs. The report argues that investment in education programs will lead to long-term benefits for centres and their communities, “beyond the short-term gain of filling seats with young people”.

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