This innovative project will allow Creative Action (formerly Theatre Action Project), in partnership with MINDPOP, to deliver powerful arts experiences to 2,500 AISD students, but it will also allow it to provide targeted professional development to teachers that will help them incorporate arts-based strategies as part of their teaching.
“What makes this project so important,” says Karen LaShelle, executive director of Creative Action, “it allows us to model and then train teachers on the effective strategies we use every day to inspire, engage and educate youth. Teachers can keep using those strategies across the curriculum making the entire educational experience more fun, more interactive and ultimately as studies have shown, more successful.”
Launched with in-depth research last year, the project is a collaboration among Creative Action, MINDPOP, Austin Independent School District and City of Austin. Creative Action staff will train a total of 125 classroom teachers in arts-based teaching strategies to support district-identified gaps in arts education.
According to a report published last year by the NEA, "The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth," at-risk students who have access to the arts in or out of school also tend to have better academic results, better workforce opportunities, and more civic engagement. The study reports these and other positive outcomes associated with high levels of arts exposure for youth of low socioeconomic status.
“Arts and social and emotional learning continue to be an important part of the curriculum in schools,” says LaShelle, “especially since we know that engaging youth creatively and supporting their personal growth is critical to student success.”
As Austin’s largest provider of after-school programming, arts enrichment, and character education programming in Central Texas, Creative Action serves more than 16,000 children and young people every year. The NEA grant marks a significant point of growth for Creative Action, which is already the largest arts-education organization in Central Texas. Last year, Creative Action won a $150,000 grant from Impact Austin for its “New Stages” youth ensemble and it was a finalist for the 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, selected by the President’s Committee on the Arts.