Arts Partnership for Oklahoma City Public Schools

Because Oklahomans understand the importance of arts education to students and schools, a partnership of arts and culture agencies, coordinated by Arts Council Oklahoma City, is bridging the gap left by cuts to visual and performing arts staffing in Oklahoma City elementary schools.

In 2016, 39 of 54 elementary Oklahoma City Public School lost arts programs. Six were left with no full time visual art or music teacher and many of these serve high poverty students, who stand to gain the most from art education’s benefits. The All Access Arts Committee of the ACOKC have prioritized the highest need schools as part of a bridging strategy to focus community support where no arts education and/or community arts partners currently exists.

This temporary bridging strategy pairs community arts organizations with these schools while the OKCPS district aligns their staffing levels to meet our collective goal for arts education access. ACOKC manages evaluation, contracting and finances, while community arts organizations gain capacity and new relationships with schools through the process. In addition, OKCPS gains expertise on art forms and community resources.

Building on these increased networks, the collective group advocates within and outside the District to ensure every student has access to visual arts, theater, music and dance education. In the future, we envision every student experiencing music and visual arts–elementary through high school–every week.

Why arts education?

We believe we should strive to be a state where each child participates in high-quality arts learning experiences in school and the community.

For a child’s education to be complete, it must include the arts. Arts education, identified as music, dance, visual arts, drama and media arts, prepare students for school, work and life. Students from all backgrounds benefit from arts education. Research repeatedly demonstrates that participation in the arts boosts learning and achievement for children, including benefits like:

  • Improvement in student achievement
  • Increased attendance
  • Lower misconduct
  • Increased parental involvement
  • Closing the opportunity gap
  • Improved graduation rates

Rigorous research indicates that elementary students benefit most clearly from arts education in terms of key subjects, learning and innovation, life and career skills and improved academic outcomes.

How do students access arts education?

Students from early childhood to high school receive arts education in multiple ways:

  • Sequential education taught by certified arts teachers in classrooms, to support state standards and goals for students
  • Arts integration that brings the project-based, problem-solving strengths of the arts to other subject areas. One example is Oklahoma’s successful Oklahoma A+ Schools methodology
  • Creative youth development through artists-in-residence, after-school programs, community arts enrichment and home-school arts programs, such as those implemented by ACOKC, to help students build personal, social and intellectual capacities

How can you help?

Sponsors or Business Partners:

Support the nonprofits’ expanded programs, collectively or individually, through funding and volunteer assistance.

Arts Organizations:

Share who you are and what you can offer with ACOKC, and stay informed about community needs.

Teaching Artists:

You are needed to supplement and enrich students’ lives–get on ACOKC’s list, propose classes, and seek training as needed

School Representatives:

Outline your needs and dreams that the arts can serve, such as:

  • Academic: music curriculum increases math learning
  • Community: parental engagement
  • Practical: more planning time for classroom teachers

Parents and Community Members:

Advocate for arts inclusion by supporting your local schools and community arts organizations, and connecting with your District-wide programs and the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools.

Backbone Agencies

A program of Arts Council Oklahoma City, All Access Arts connects music, dance, and visual arts education with under-served schools, libraries, OKC parks, and community agencies. The program serves approximately 12,000 people annually.

The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools, Partners In Action initiative provides the infrastructure to develop community partners for every school and classroom. From large corporations to small businesses, churches to nonprofits, there are a variety of ways for community partners across Oklahoma City to play a strategic and meaningful role for Oklahoma City Public Schools and the children it serves.