By Dr. Neeli Bendapudi, University of Louisville President
Published by the Courier-Journal on 12/11/18

With the academic year in full swing and nearing its midway point, it is crucial that we celebrate the many ways in which school engagement activities lead to academic success, and the impact of arts education. Our duty, as educators and influencers of students, is to support these types of opportunities and continue to increase passion for learning.

I call on our community and school district to celebrate the power of arts in education and support educational arts opportunities, which foster creativity, confidence and communication in our students and impact all areas of life.

For the University of Louisville and all Kentucky schools, utilizing the arts and music is one of the simplest and most effective ways to positively influence students and foster their enthusiasm for school itself. In my experience as a mother and my time as an educator, I have witnessed first-hand the myriad ways in which the arts engage creativity. Now, as president of the University of Louisville, I have had the great good fortune to see, comprehensively, how all students — particularly those at the highest levels of academia — are positively shaped through arts exposure.

At U of L, we’re focused on becoming a great place to learn, to work and to invest. Supporting arts in education helps us get closer to those goals. And when we incorporate the arts into curriculum, we give our students better chances for success both in and out of the classroom.

Young students highly involved in the arts are four times more likely to receive recognition for academic achievement and three times more likely to win a school attendance award. Increased access to arts education helps hone the academic skills necessary for language and reading development, empowers students’ drive to learn and ultimately, closes the achievement gap.

I am honored to support the Fund for the Arts, which works with partners to ensure that every student in the Greater Louisville region has the opportunity to learn, grow and succeed through the arts — and in doing so, strengthens student performance in ways that extend throughout their entire academic journey.

With every form of educational arts programming that it supports — from in-classroom artist residencies to formative field trips to positive out-of-school-time experiences — the Fund exposes students to learning and inspirational activities that feed directly into core academic initiatives. Their essential EVERY CHILD Arts Education Initiative works to reinforce arts accessibility. As a component of their overall educational experience, the goal is to ensure every child participates in the arts each year of his or her education. This month they’re unveiling the recipients of their EVERY CHILD grants: a staggering 169 schools across the state will receive nearly $300,000 to support more than 58,000 arts experiences.

However, as we acknowledge the impact of the arts on our students and celebrate how far we’ve come with arts education in our city, we must also look forward to the work that remains.

Students from all backgrounds deserve arts education — regardless of class, race, gender or socioeconomic status. We can strengthen all of our academic institutions and our community as a whole, as well as empower the next generation of leaders, by prioritizing expanded arts programming in our at-risk neighborhoods and growing arts and cultural experiences throughout Louisville. In doing so, we could ensure that every student receives meaningful arts experiences — and the many benefits that accompany it.

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