As the nation's center for the performing arts, the Kennedy Center is committed to increasing opportunities for all people to participate in and understand the arts. To fulfill that mission, the Center strives to commission, produce, and present performances reflecting the highest standards of excellence and diversity indicative of the world in which we live, and to make those performances accessible to the broadest possible audience through arts education.
The Kennedy Center believes that the arts are one of humanity's most eloquent means of understanding the world. Through the arts, we share the highest achievements of every culture and find a universal language which permits communication among all peoples. As such, the arts are an essential component of a complete education.
Through the years, studies have discovered what the Kennedy Center has known for a long time: that the inclusion of the performing arts in a broad-based curriculum improves the quality of a child's educational experience. The arts teach discipline, improve self-esteem, inspire creativity, and help young people to set and reach goals. Knowledge of the arts makes good teachers better and makes participating schools exciting, challenging places for children--places where they are encouraged to explore, to create, and to reach their full potential.
With its affiliate, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Kennedy Center takes a leadership role in national performing arts education policy and programs, working as both a pioneer and as a partner with other performing arts institutions, educators and schools, legislators, parents, and community and business leaders. The Center commissions, creates, and tours performances for students, teachers, adults, and families; offers professional development opportunities in the arts for teachers; develops model programs for use by other performing arts centers and schools; develops and encourages national and community outreach programs; and serves as a clearinghouse for arts education information and as an advocate for arts education on a national level.
In its originating statute, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is mandated by the Congress to be a leader in national performing arts education policy and programs. The Kennedy Center's Education Department serves that mandate through extensive education programming, including developing and presenting original and innovative performing arts and educational programs for children, youth, families, adults, and educators designed specifically to foster an appreciation and understanding of the performing arts. These programs are partially funded from public and private sources through the U.S. Department of Education and the Kennedy Center Corporate Fund.
The arts are a critical and essential part of the education of every young person in America, and every American should have high-quality opportunities to be educated in all of the arts. Such an education should occur both in and out of classroom settings as part of an ongoing learning process for all individuals, including those with special talents or needs.
A comprehensive arts education draws upon the expertise of both arts specialists and classroom teachers, and upon the experiences and resources of professional artists and community cultural resources. Only by utilizing all of these resources can individuals achieve the full educational potential of the arts. Further, any serious attempt to address arts education must articulate the value of a comprehensive approach to basic education and affirm the integral role of the arts in education and in education reform. The national standards in the arts have provided a guide for the development of state and local curriculum and assessments in the arts. These standards provide all educators with guidelines for providing a comprehensive approach to educating students in all of the arts and support learning in, through, and about the arts.