Educators, Broadway professionals, parents and students rally to raise arts funding in NYC Public Schools
NEW YORK — A group of educators, artists and politicians want Mayor Eric Adams to raise funding for the arts in New York City Public Schools.
CBS2’s Dave Carlin was there Tuesday when they took that fight to 42nd Street in the heart of the Theater District.
At this rally in Midtown, there were calls for more theater, dance, music, film and visual art instruction in school.
The funding and the follow by are currently inadequate, according to these educators, Broadway professionals, parents and students.
“What other subject is offered maybe in first grade and again as a freshman in high school? That is just wrong,” said Russell Granet, president and CEO of New42.
The plea is to pump up funding in the upcoming city budget. Going forward, every student gets at the minimum $100 per year for arts training.
“It lays a foundation for us to be able to ultimately reach equity and access,” said Kimberly Olsen, executive director of NYC Arts in Education Roundtable.
Kaydaly Soto, 17, said her life changed when she hit the stage in her Bronx elementary school at age seven.
“I nevertheless remember it to this day,” Soto said.
Soto spoke at the rally.
“That helped me express myself more,” she said.
Soto was joined at the podium by Pascale Gantt and Fatimata Kabore, both 16 years old and acting, dancing, and writing plays and poetry.
“Before I would never speak, and now it’s like any time the teacher asks a question, I’m the first one to answer,” Gantt said.
The teens were praised by Broadway director Charles Randolph-Wright.
“I expect these three behind me to change the world and we have to give them the tools to do that,” Randolph-Wright said.
Currently, it’s about $79 per kid with no guarantee the money gets used by the principals for arts-related studies.
Part of this push to make sure the $100 per public school student is specifically earmarked for arts instruction.
“The city’s done pretty good historically with funding culture, but I think we can do a lot better,” City Council Member Erik Bottcher said.
Adding to this conversation was James Jackson Jr. from the Broadway musical “A Strange Loop.”
“I will never, never, never forget what arts teachers have done for me,” Jackson Jr. said.
Rally organizers expect to get an answer from the city this week.
Organizers of the rally said the need for guaranteed arts education is basic post-pandemic. Research shows that arts education improves student performance, mental health and the overall chances of success later in life.
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