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Hartford Schools Prioritize Access to the Arts, Improve Outcomes

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Jan 11, 2016

In Hartford, CT, where over half of the student body qualifies for free or reduced-price meals, educators are successfully integrating the arts into a comprehensive learning strategy. Hartford Performs, a nonprofit partnership, began six years ago with the goal of making the arts a critical focus in Hartford classrooms. The initiative had a three-pronged approach:

  • Use dance, theater, visual arts, and music to teach academic subjects
  • Provide training for teachers to learn how to integrate arts into their academic lessons
  • Fund student visits to museums, concert halls and theaters

According to a 2014 study by the Public Consulting Group, “students participating in the programs scored better in reading and writing than their peers.”

The program brings arts into the classrooms, by employing over 140 visiting artists to lead lessons, while also allowing the student body to engage with Hartford’s creative resources – including programming at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. “When we learn things in the real world, subjects aren’t compartmentalized,” Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, superintendent of Hartford’s school district, said. “Hartford is so rich in arts resources. It is the first and most important thing about this partnership. It gives our children access to these critical resources that exist in the community.”

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