Arts Education Special: Art For All
Chalk up your success to the things you learned by acting in the fifth-grade play.
As Julie Rumschlag enumerates the value of an education in the arts, her daughter, 7 years young, is somewhere on campus, making her first tentative notes on a violin.
“Will she be a violinist? Who knows?” Rumschlag says. “It’s about exposure.”
Rumschlag is dean of the Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington. The place has grown so popular with young students—it now receives 1,000 applications a year for the 300 available seats—it had to find new ways to provide an education. Hence the new Cab Calloway Summer School of the Arts, where the dean’s daughter is flexing her bow and other students are experimenting in other disciplines.
“Are they all going to be artists? No,” Rumschlag says. “Are they going to be better people for it? Absolutely.”
The beauty of living here is the wealth of opportunities for people of every age to enjoy the arts and grow through them.
The benefit of arts education is manifold: improved critical thinking, better communication skills, increased problem-solving skills, new perspectives on the world. Those who work in groups, like musicians and dancers, gain self-awareness and self-confidence, mutual respect, sometimes better fitness. The benefits go on and on, including the simple joy of deeper appreciation of all things beautiful or thought-provoking.
“I think it impacts every aspect of life,” says Jane Chesson, curator of education at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts. “To me, what it really does is to help you think differently. It makes you a better learner, and it makes you better able to do other things.” Robert Grenfell, president of First State Ballet Theatre, where he is also a student, agrees: Even a child who aspires to be an accountant benefits from the self-confidence gained through performance.
Public schools offer some education in the arts to school-aged kids. Some, like Southern Delaware School of the Arts and Kuumba Academy, use the arts to teach subjects such as math and science. Local organization and institutions fill in the gaps or augment public education. For more than 30 years, Carol Mangano, an art teacher at Rising Sun Middle School in Maryland, has been taking her students to the Delaware Art Museum, Brandywine River Museum and Longwood Gardens to supplement what she teaches in her classroom.
And—great news for adults—that education is available to all. Here’s a sampling of what they have to offer and the benefit to you.