The Arts in Education program enhances the classroom curriculum of students with special needs and engages them in the learning process through arts integration. The program provides artist residencies, staff development for teachers, performances by professional artists, talent development, and Very Special Arts Festivals.
Funding from current Federal Public Law along with grants from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Louisiana Decentralized Arts Funding Program, VSA arts of Louisiana, and other public sources enable professional arts educators to work in classrooms through artist residency programs. These artists implement Disciplined-Based Art Education programs that reinforce GLEs (grade level expectations) across the curriculum and facilitate creative expression. Elementary as well as secondary schools within the parish receive artist-in-the classroom residencies on a rotating basis.
The artist/facilitator and contracted arts educators conduct parish-wide workshops for teachers that enhance arts integration and support Act 175. This legislation, passed in 2007, requires Louisiana K-8 public schools to provide 60 minutes of instruction in the performing arts and 60 minutes of instruction in the visual arts each week for all students beginning in the 2010-2011 school year.
Festival grants from VSA arts of Louisiana and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation support yearly performances by various groups including: Playmakers of Baton Rouge Children’s Theater, Jazz Centennial Celebration (Charmaine Neville and Band), and Papillion. These performances take place during the weeks designated for Very Special Arts Festivals.
Very Special Arts Festivals
Very Special Arts Festivals are held in participating schools during designated weeks of each school year. These school-based celebrations bring guest artists to schools to work with students with special needs in self-contained classes, inclusion settings and large assemblies. Teaching artists (TA) conduct art activities in classrooms while performing artists (PA) present live performances for student assemblies. In-keeping with the school system’s policy of inclusion, students from the general education program participate in VSA Festival events along with students with special needs. The principal of each school designates a teacher as the festival director who guides his/her school in designing activities that meet specific needs and wishes. Funding, planning resources and on-going support comes from Special Programs and VSA arts of Louisiana. Approximately 70 schools participate each year, with the over-all program impacting approximately 9,000 students.