Thursday, January 23, 2014

Learning in the arts enables every individual to develop the critical thinking, collaborative, and creative skills necessary to succeed in today’s ever-changing world. Americans for the Arts, and it’s national charity partner, Vans Custom Culture, envision a country where every child has access to—and takes part in–high quality learning experiences in the arts, both in school and in the community.

As a component of its ongoing partnership with Vans, Americans for the Arts is pleased to announce the winners of the Vans Custom Culture Grant Program’s second year of funding. This competitive high school grant program seeks to increase both visibility for and resources available to ten schools across the country who are engaged in working to sustain the arts as a vital part of education. The grant awards $2000 to schools for their visual and performing arts programs.

Vans Custom Culture Grants are available to public high schools (grades 9-12) that have allowed arts education to thrive in their school community. The grants are intended to encourage the inclusion of the arts as an integral component of an excellent education, and to support activities that are consistent with local and national learning standards for arts education.

To be considered for the grant, schools had to complete a formal application which included; work samples that demonstrate students’ work in either visual arts and/or music; a project budget and narrative; and a description of how the school meets the eligibility criteria of the grant. The winning schools were selected by a review panel comprised of Americans for the Arts national arts education council members, as well as staff of Vans and Americans for the Arts.


Here is a list of the 10 winning schools:

Detroit School of Arts, Detroit, MI

East Hamilton High School, Ooltewah, TN

Golightly Career & Technical Center, Detroit, MI

Hope Special Education Center, Buena Park, CA

Las Plumas High School, Oroville, CA

Sun Valley High School, Sun Valley, CA

Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies, Los Angeles, CA

Putnam City North High School,  Oklahoma City, OK

VADA Visual Arts & Design Academy, Santa Barbara, CA

Valley Academy of Arts & Sciences, Granada Hills, CA

"Vans is incredibly excited to partner with Americans for the Arts and put much needed funds back into the hands of high school art programs around the country,” said Scott Byrer of Vans.  “Art education is a vital part of a student’s development, and we hope these funds will allow more students the opportunity to experience firsthand the power of creative self expression via their school’s art program.”

Schools will use the funds to support their visual arts and/or music programs. For example, Hope Special Education Center in Buena Park, CA will be using the funds to support the school’s annual “Pageant of Hope Celebration” where students with special needs recreate famous works of visual art on stage.

Golightly Career and Technical High School in Detroit requested funds for a visual art project in response to negative imagery attached to the city. “Project D” will be part bound book and part student exhibit of photographs capturing Detroit landmarks that students feel make Detroit great. (Golightly Project D photo featured with this article).

Sun Valley High School in Los Angeles will use funds to purchase new digital cameras and lenses where students will learn how to use professional cameras to explore exposure and depth of field in photography.  Student work samples can be found online. Marion Levine, an Art Teacher who received funding at the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies for a student film project said, “We are thrilled to receive this [Vans] grant money. My students are really excited about receiving the grant and being able to get instruction from experienced filmmakers.”

“Research shows that students who study the arts outperform their peers who do not. In addition, study of the arts also teaches discipline, creative thinking, problem-solving and communications skills—all of which are essential for today’s youth to succeed in the 21st Century workforce,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “These schools demonstrated through their competitive application for this grant that they are not only committed to providing their students with a well-rounded education, but also to growing and improving their arts education programs. These funds will help support that growth.”

By Jessica Wilt, Americans for the Arts' Arts Education Council Chair