The primary goal of the Kennedy Center's Any Given Child program is to assist communities in developing a plan for expanded arts education in their schools ensuring access and equity for all students in grades K-8. The Kennedy Center brings to this initiative more than three decades of work with thousands of students, teachers, principals, administrators, business leaders, and arts managers across the country.
Michael M. Kaiser, President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, had been concerned about the status of arts education in America for some time. He noted that for most young people, access to arts education in school was sporadic and uneven. "If a child's second grade teacher is familiar and comfortable with the arts, that child may have many arts experiences during the year. The teacher may integrate the arts with other subjects during instruction; the teacher may take the students to a performance or exhibit by a local arts organization or museum; the teacher may invite a teaching artist into the classroom for a residency so the artist is working with the students over time. However, if that same child's third grade teacher has little or no experience with the arts, the child may receive no arts instruction nor participate in any arts experiences that year. We would never teach math or language arts that way." If students are fortunate enough to be in a school with arts teachers who see them weekly, then some gaps in students' arts education are being filled. But it is the rare school that has arts specialists in dance and theater, as well as in music and visual arts. Equity and access to a complete arts education remains an issue for too many students.
Mr. Kaiser's vision was that a community would come together to address the need for access to and equity in arts education for students across an entire school district. In 2009, he initiated the Any Given Child program, designed to assist a community in planning strategically to provide an equitable arts education for students in grades K-8, using the existing resources of the school district, the local arts community, and the Kennedy Center.
Any Given Child focuses its efforts on students of grades K-8 because of the unique nature of high schools, which typically include the arts in elective classes. It has been observed that if more demand for the arts is created in grades K-8, then more demand will follow in high schools. Because the program is funded with public dollars, Any Given Child communities focus data-gathering on public schools and public charter schools.
"Any given child in this country deserves the opportunity to experience and engage in the arts," said Darrell M. Ayers, Kennedy Center Vice President for Education. “By offering a strong arts education, young people benefit in intellectual, personal, and social development. We want to ensure that every child receives a complete education - one that includes the arts - and that Any Given Child communities serve as examples for other cities across the United States.”
The Kennedy Center has identified five primary outcomes for communities participating in the Any Given Child program. Communities will:
- Develop long term goals for increased access and equity in arts education programs and resources for K-8 students.
- Develop and maintain programs and support systems (including data, resources, and professional development) for arts learning providers, such as classroom teachers, arts specialists, administrators, arts organizations, and teaching artists.
- Develop and maintain a governance structure to oversee and sustain the Any Given Child program.
- Secure funding and other resources necessary to sustain the community’s long term goals for K-8 arts education for every child.
- Influence arts and education policy in the school district, local government, and arts organizations.
Any Given Child, part of the Rubenstein Arts Access Program, is generously funded by David and Alice Rubenstein.
This program is also funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Additional support is provided by David Gregory and Beth Wilkinson;
the National Committee for the Performing Arts; the President's Advisory Committee on the Arts;
and the U.S. Department of Education.