Cultural Quarterly
Winter 2009
Volume XXII, Number 1
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Teaming Up to Bring
the Arts to Kids

By Helene Foster

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Every afternoon, children throughout Broward County can be found learning through music, dance, fine art and drama. These creative experiences are possible through a long-running partnership between the Children’s Services Council (CSC) and the Broward Cultural Division.

The two agencies teamed up over a decade ago to boost arts involvement and exposure for children in after-school and summer programs funded by the CSC - a non-profit organization that helps enhance underserved children’s lives by providing them with leadership, advocacy and resources. The group works directly with providers of programs that enrich youngsters’ lives in Broward County.

“The crux of our partnership is to increase the availability of after-school and summer programs for the general population and special needs children by infusing arts-in-education into these programs,” explains Grace Kewl, arts management specialist II for the Broward Cultural Division. “The Cultural Division helps the CSC by providing arts-in-education specialists through a directory they can access to plan field trips or programs at their site.”

The Cultural Division’s role is to provide assistance to arts providers by reviewing artists’ qualifications, offering an annual conference and workshops as well as monitoring feedback from CSC providers.

Kewl shares that there are currently 124 CSC-contracted sites in the county that host these programs. Thousands of youngsters are served at these schools, community centers and other locations.

 

Linda Houston-Jones, founder and president of Ashanti Cultural Arts, says that this partnership is a “great project for both social services and artists.” She has provided after-school, summer and teacher workday programs in African dance, rhythmic drumming, theater, literacy, wellness and martial arts. She says that many of these children would not have a place to go after school and would not have access to these enrichment programs without the grants from the CSC.

“My company has been in existence for 18 years and we have been involved with the CSC’s after-school programs for 10 years,” she adds. “It is inspirational to encourage children to be a part of the arts. The reaction of the children is priceless – most are enlightened, they have a change in their outlook on life and they improve their academic performance.”

Thanks to the partnership between Broward Cultural Division and the CSC, there is no charge to the children who partake in these programs. Additionally, all of the programs combine arts-in-education and Florida’s Sunshine State Standards to enrich the lives of thousands of children in Broward County.

 

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