In 2013, Missoula was chosen as one of fourteen cities to participate in the John F. Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child Initiative, a national effort to ensure equity and access to the arts for public school students. A Community Arts Team, comprised of local leaders, formed and met with Kennedy Center representatives. The team collected data on regional arts education programming, evaluated resources in and out of schools, and crafted a strategic plan to achieve equitable and integrated arts education. In 2014, the Community Arts Team pledged to continue to champion arts education and formed SPARK! Arts Ignite Learning to facilitate arts education opportunities for Missoula County students.
OVERVIEW FROM THE KENNEDY CENTER
With national attention focused on the need for an engaged work force capable of creative critical thinking, collaboration, and communication, one would imagine that arts education would be a national priority. However, for many children in our schools, their arts education is episodic, a hit-or-miss opportunity, available to only some students some of the time.
Recognizing this disparity, the Kennedy Center envisioned how it might assist communities throughout the nation to provide arts education programs and resources for all students, every year in their kindergarten through 8th grade education.
In 2009, the Kennedy Center began to pave the way toward that “smart, affordable approach to arts education.” In that year, the first Any Given Child site was established in Sacramento, California, under the leadership of Mayor Kevin Johnson. In each subsequent year, new communities have joined the initiative.
Guided by Kennedy Center consultation and facilitation tailored to their needs, Any Given Child communities engage in a sustained, multi-year effort to develop and carry out plans to ensure arts education for all students. Communities progress through three phases of work: Strategic Planning (year 1), Implementation (years 2-4), and Sustaining (year 5 and beyond). Throughout all phases of work, communities have access to Kennedy Center assistance and resources.