Students from the Eliza B. Kirkbride School visited City Council and were recognized by Councilman Squilla last week for their arts-based project titled “American Dreams”. In honor of Philadelphia Arts Advocacy Week, the students brought signs with messages of “Save the Arts” and “Protect Arts Ed,” speaking to the need for arts funding in Philly public schools.
“It made me feel important to be there”, commented one 8th grade student.
“[Councilman Squilla] really seemed like he cared about what we had to say”, responded another.
‘American Dreams’ demonstrates the deep connections among immigrant stories that the students uncovered from their families, school, and neighborhood. The project, funded by PCCY through its Picasso Project program, is the result of a partnership with CosaCosa Art At Large and Passyunk Square Civic Association.
I asked Picasso Project Director, Tim Gibbon, how would we describe the current state of arts in our schools.
“In terms of the current state of arts in School District of Philadelphia schools: We currently have only 1 full time arts teacher (visual art, music, dance, or theater) for every 362 students in the district. This means that students’ dedicated arts learning time can be very limited, and teachers are spread very thin, often having to raise money for materials or purchase them out of pocket. 14 schools currently have no full time arts teachers on staff. The positive effects of arts education is well-documented, and our students deserve better.”