Now entering their third decade of using the arts to instruct, inspire and unleash the creative spirit of local youth, the Cathedral Arts Project (CAP) has provided a full year of quality arts education to nearly twenty-five thousand K-8 students. Their vision is for every child in Northeast Florida to have access to a well-rounded, arts-rich education.
Beginning in 1993 with one afterschool dance class, CAP became a 501(c) 3 non-profit in 2000 and has since added classes in visual arts, music and theatre; doubled their programming to twice-weekly after-school sessions; added summer and schoolday programming; offered professional development opportunities for its instructors; and, in 2014, became a partner with Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child arts advocacy program.
In 2016, CAP will address educational gaps as they affect students by race, sexual orientation and exceptionality through a program called Arts Education: Lift Every Voice. Along with providing their continued programming, CAP plans to raise funds to help transform seven Duval County middle schools, and will support efforts to convert Stilwell MS into a performing arts magnet on Jacksonville’s Westside.
CAP’s research tells the story of the arts’ crucial role in education. A well-rounded education teaches young people not just to read and write, but to think creatively, solve problems, collaborate and express their unique talents and ideas. One of the best ways for students to gain these abilities is to experience arts and culture in the classroom. The drop-out rate for low-income students is 22% if they receive no arts education, while comparatively low, at 4%, if they have arts education.
The arts can also be an on-ramp to STEM* for under-represented students, especially lower-income students, girls and ethnic minorities.
More of the brain is at work when the arts are part of the learning experience. Multiple senses are employed, and students experience the information, rather than simply receiving it by data transfer. The information then stays in their long-term memory because they’ve interacted with it. Amazingly this may even change the structure of neurons in the brain, setting up pathways for a lifetime of better learning.
Cathedral Arts Project, 207 N. Laura St., Suite 300, (904) 281-5599, capkids.org
*As of January, 2016, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) has become STEAM to include Arts, but no data yet exists. See article, Making STEAM, for more on the change.