Stars across the country are finding new ways to promote the arts for youth

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Arts education is getting an extra push from some big names.  Celebrities, and artists themselves, Kerry Washington, Kevin Spacey, Monica Horan, and violinist Joshua Bell all took a moment this week to herald the need for greater access to arts education for young people across the country.  In a nod to their own successes and opportunities, these stars have taken up the cause – either via their own personal foundations, programs, or public speaking – to promote and fight for arts programs in schools so that future generations might also have the chance to succeed.

Each noting parallels between their own education and early careers, these arts superstars have found ways to demonstrate their strong commitment to arts education for young people.  Kerry Washington took a moment with Variety Magazine to reflect on the learning experience that came from her first feature film about high school students fighting to stay in their marching band in between social, academic, and family pressures.  Citing key findings that music and theater programs can raise a student’s confidence as well as their test scores, both Kevin Spacey and Joshua Bell opened up about their own background in the arts and how it directly inspired their current work with youth.   And, in asserting her dedication to arts training for all ages, Everybody Loves Raymond star, Monica Horan, will be joining forces with an old classmate to teach acting and improvisation in her home state of Pennsylvania.

“Art is part of what it means to be a human being, and to make it just an extracurricular thing is sad, because most kids will not get any [artistic] experience if they don’t have it in their school at some point.”  At a time when many schools face limited budgets and hard cuts, voices as powerful as these are a great reminder that the arts are not only massively influential, but absolutely essential to youth development.