During a recent trip to New York City, Felipe from GlobalGiving stopped by Arts for All for a quick visit. Here is his postcard from the field:
Due to unfortunate timing, I could not visit an actual Arts for All class so, instead, talked to the organization's directors, Anna and Alan.
Arts for All provides free artistic experiences for children in New York City - painting, music, theater, etc. They reach over 3,000 children in all of the city's five boroughs. They not only visit schools but also shelters and hospitals - anywhere where a child can benefit from their programs.
Anna and Alan mentioned that New York City public schools, for various reasons, operate underdeveloped arts programs. The schools have taken warmly to Arts for All's programs, and the organization is now operating in approximately 30 organizations. They are expanding as principals move to other schools and bring Arts for All with them and as principals talk about Arts for All with each other.
Anna and Alan also mentioned that teachers respond positively to the programs. Teachers have told Arts for All that they have been amazed how a once-difficult student achieved a level of focus and participation that they could not imagine possible beforehand.
Arts for All also interviews candidates who want to be teaching artists to make sure that they are the type of people who can intelligently and effectively share arts lessons with students. They currently have a waiting list for people who want to be teaching artists.
Arts for All has recently focused on more stringently evaluating the effectiveness of its programs. Anna and Alan shared an assessment document that teachers use to gauge what information the children have retained from day 1 to the end of a program. They hope to use these evaluations to improve their programs and to illustrate to others the measurable impact that Arts for All has on the children.
Arts for All seems to impact schools and children positively, and it appears to be growing and planning for growth in an intelligent way.