Kennedy Center to help Jacksonville schools with arts education

Headline Goes Here Kennedy Center photo by Steve Snodgrass

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced Thursday it will work with Duval County Public Schools and local arts organizations to create a plan to develop arts education for Jacksonville students from kindergarten to eighth-grade.

The Kennedy Center chose Jacksonville as its 14th site for "Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child," a program that creates a long-range arts education plans for communities.

"This is great news for our schools and our city," said Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Duval County Public Schools. "The Kennedy Center's Any Given Child initiative is directly aligned to our strategic plan focus area of developing the whole child, and provides our community an incredible opportunity to advance our work of enriching and improving the lives and educational outcomes of Jacksonville's children."

The program seeks to bring art resources into schools using an affordable model that combines existing resources of the school district, local arts groups and the Kennedy Center. Kennedy Center staff and other professionals and community leaders will develop a plan tailor-made for the school district and community.

"Offering a strong arts education component benefits students in their social, intellectual and personal development," said Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser. "We are grateful to Mayor Brown and Superintendent Vitti for their commitment to this program."

Using existing organizations and resources, the program aims to minimize administrative overhead and keep the plan affordable.  Over the next six to nine months, the Kennedy Center staff and consultants will first conduct an audit of existing arts education resources. Based on this information, they will create a plan to bring more access to arts education for all K-8 students.

During phase two of the program, a committee of community members will make recommendations to the school district and local arts groups how to best implement the plan.

In addition, educators and artists can take advantage of a wealth of resources available from the Kennedy Center, such as supplemental lessons with online interactive learning modules and videos available at, along with professional development for teachers and teaching artists.

The Kennedy Center kicked off the Any Given Child program in 2009 in Sacramento, Calif. Since then, other communities have added arts teachers in schools, raised significant dollars to provide performance and museum experiences for students, and coordinated the efforts of arts organizations providing education programs so that more students are served. 

Any Given Child is funded by David and Alice Rubenstein, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts, David Gregory and Beth Wilkinson, the President's Advisory Committee on the Arts, and the U.S. Department of Education.

WJCT 89.9FM contributed to this report.

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