A study in contrast.
Consider Red Sox’s Fenway Park, iconic home to a storied sports institution that provides inspiration and hope to millions. A gleaming facility, the stadium is an idyllic home to a group of talented individuals teeming with fans willing to pay high prices to be entertained.
Now consider the Boston Arts Academy (BAA), in an aging factory building with modest facilities across the street from Fenway, hosting a dedicated, super-talented faculty providing inspiration and hope to students from around Boston. Providing the richest sort of educational experience and leadership to those who need it most.
While the value of arts education is well documented in improving student achievement and scholarship, the funding and facilities required lag far behind what is needed and far behind funding for science (and vocational training and sports) in the U.S.
How much? Here are some numbers from the 2010 Federal Budget, which totaled $3,552 billion (just under $11,500 per capita):
Without debating what is more or less valuable, let us simply say that research has shown just how powerful a force for good art education can be in helping students achieve their goals in almost any arena!
“The GRAMMY Foundation is a non-profit charitable arm of The Recording Academy with a mission of cultivating an awareness, appreciation, and advancement of the contribution of recorded music to American culture. For nearly 20 years, the GRAMMY Foundation has supported quality public high school music education through its GRAMMY Signature Schools program. This program provides grants to music programs based on excellence. The top GRAMMY Signature Schools winners are deemed as GRAMMY Signature Schools Gold Award recipients.”
As Education Director of iZotope, I had the good fortune to represent The GRAMMY Foundation in presenting a GRAMMY Signature Schools Gold Award to the BAA. Frankly I was blown away by the energetic determination on the part of the faculty to give their all on behalf of the students, and all the more so by the total ‘buy in’ on behalf of the students as I watched them rehearse and perform under the guidance of the faculty.
Not only is this school providing strong general education offerings and training in traditional arts, but they have managed to fashion a music tech program where students program MIDI controls using an Arduino and fashion the physical boxes for their creations using a 3D printer. All of this, dance, music, visual arts, and music tech, happens in a completely unadorned, run-down facility…and the energy popping out of the students was barely contained by the walls and corridors within.
I can’t wait to see what the school can do with the financial support provided by the award...and there’s a rumor that a new building might be in the works. In the meantime BAA is taking up as much slack as it can to provide something sorely needed and under-supported by our society, and I am so glad they do.
A special thanks to Kathleen Marsh, Artistic Dean; Greg Holt, Music Department Chair and world class bassist; and to the BAA community for extending such a warm welcome!
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