Inspiring our Electeds to Support NYC Cultural Institutions #NYCInspires

Today, we presented testimony before the New York City Council’s Education Committee, in which we called for the Council to support a request for an increase of $40,000,000 to the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs’s budget. Below is our testimony:

Flushing Town Hall, a member of NYC’s Cultural Institutions Group (CIG), is one of many cultural institutions that have stepped in to fill the gap created by the significant losses of Arts Education Programs in NYC Schools over recent decades. We applaud recent increases to the DOE’s budget specific to arts education, and we hope both the council and administration will go farther.

For more than 20 years Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts’ (FCCA) Education Program has captivated imaginations, broadened students’ arts education experience and provided meaningful connections between classroom subject areas and the arts.  We develop and provide innovative arts education programming for students of all ages from children to seniors, throughout Queens and beyond.

Over the past year, we offered 58 educational programs and events to over 8700 students, teachers, and seniors. These programs included matinees for school students, in-school residencies, CASAs, workshops, professional development for teachers, and workshops for seniors. FCCA currently serves 56 schools annually with our multidisciplinary program in visual arts, dance, music, and theater which encompass the many world cultures of our diverse community of Flushing, Queens. This year, school performances feature nationally and internationally recognized artists in presentations of Hip-Hop, American Indian music and dance, Irish and African American music and dance, Mexican music, Taiwan Puppetry, theater for autistic students and more. In workshops and residencies, students have an opportunity to explore Chinese calligraphy, Indian dance, Korean dance, storytelling, Colombian music and much more.  Workshops and residencies are led our curated list of master teaching artists who have either grown-up in the traditional arts that they teach or who are qualified experts in their fields such as theater or the visual arts. Our performances, residencies and workshops connect to the NYS Common Core Learning Standards and NYC Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts.

FCCA supports our school partners with a number of resources. FCCA’s online listings of workshop and residency descriptions provide schools with teaching artist’s qualifications, project descriptions and information about curriculum connections. FCCA’s study guides offer important information about the performing artists, cultures, music, dance, etc. with pre-show and post-show activities. Our e-newsletter is emailed to our 1200 school contacts and it highlights upcoming performances, connects our arts education programming with classroom content and National Heritage months, and offers introductions to new programs and teachings artists. This year, we piloted our Flushing Town Hall Kid’s Correspondent program. This new media project invites young people to interview artists, hone their speaking skills, explore diverse arts and cultural programs, and preview and review our school and family programs.

What teachers say: During the many years I was a teacher, I took my classes to some great school performances for school groups, but never did any come close to the scope and genius of the one I saw yesterday morning at Flushing Town Hall. —Doris Meyer, UFT, Retired NYC DOE school teacher

Our MTAC contract proposal was recently approved. FCCA seeks to continue to grow the Education Department so that the organization can continue to serve our school community with best practices.

In addition to our work with schools, FCCA’s family series provides high quality, culturally diverse family performances, interactive arts workshops and festivals with acclaimed artists from around the world, accessible to audience members of all ages and cultures. Open to the public, these shows feature interactive arts workshops that explore the forms and themes of the production. Our corresponding workshops are typically led by the artist and offer a great hands-on opportunity for audiences to share dynamic learning experiences with professionals. In 2015, we offered 57 programs (shows, workshops, festivals, jams, clinics and exhibitions) and event to 3770 family members.

In total, FCCA’s education department served nearly 12,500 audience members with 115 program and events in FY2015 (our programs in total served 50,000). We have done this with only two full-time education staff & one part-time person, and despite significant reductions in our budget from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs since 2009. We are at the limit of our capacity, and in order to fulfil the increasing demands for our services (we’ve been offered a 5th CASA for 2017, and are close to having a Contract Number with DOE), we will need more operating support. Thus we request the Council support not only increased Arts Education funds to the DOE, we strongly urge the Council to support the request for an increase of $40,000,000 to the DCLA’s budget, which will benefit us, as well as the hundreds of other cultural institutions that provide much-needed arts education services to NYC Schools.

 

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