We’ve all heard it a hundred times before, especially of late here in Chicago: “Further funding cuts to the arts in public schools,” or “Due to lack of funding, instead of five times a week, so-and-so junior high will now have two required art or arts related classes per week.” And always, math, science and reading retain their positions as the most important aspects of education today. Let’s face it, in terms of concrete skills for future use in industry and business, math and science represent the requisites. But without creative thinkers, concrete skills are limited by those that wield them; without individuals who can see beauty in their surroundings, find happiness, and glean confidence from it, those skills do not make the world a better place. One of Chicago’s most stalwart advocates for education in the arts is, and has been for more than fifty years, is Urban Gateways: Center for Arts Education.
Their approach is simple: “Art for all.” To them that means, as Brian Foster , Director Of Marketing for Urban Gateways said, “The three E’s: Every Art, Every Child, Every Day.” By deploying their talent in a variety of ways, Urban Gateways hopes to awaken the creative impulse within as many students as possible, and compel them to follow it toward productive ends.
One way artists connect with students is through residencies. Residencies can last anywhere from six weeks to a year. During a residency, an artist of almost any variety imaginable visits a school, and conducts hands-on activities within their realm of expertise. All of the artists are also trained and experienced educators whose curricula are in accordance with Illinois state regulations. Plus kids love an exciting change in their routine.
Other avenues Urban Gateways employ include Touring Performances, Workshops, and Professional development.
Touring Performances can include dance or theatre troupes, and musical ensembles from an incredible number of different backgrounds and disciplines. The wide variety and high level of artistic expertise offers a fascination experience for virtually any audience.
Another intriguing way that Urban Gateways engages the arts is through Workshops. There are two kinds: Family and Community; and Student Immersion. Family and Community workshops enable children to learn through the arts alongside their adults. Programs cater specifically to that kind of pairing. Student Immersion workshops are what they sound like; students spend the entirety of the workshop with artists, exploring their craft and the world around them. Workshops are between one and four sessions, for Family and Community, and one to three days for Student Immersion.
The final avenue that Urban Gateways employs to foster arts education and education through arts is through Professional Development. An Illinois State Board of Education Approved provider of professional development, Urban Gateways offers teachers a change of pace in acquiring some of their required Continuing Professional Development Units (CPDU’s), and a worthwhile way to improve their outlook on educating their students.
Urban Gateways believes in the continued exploration of art and that there is no end to what we can learn from it. Join Urban Gateways in fostering that notion, and help make the world a better place.