FFDC Members Rally for Arts Education Funding

As city lawmakers negotiate the final budget, Four Freedoms Democratic Club members joined the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable, students, educators, and City Council Members at a rally for arts education urging City Hall to address inequality in arts education and ensure that all schools have an arts program and certified arts teacher by providing vital arts education funding. City Council leaders including Majority Leader Keith Powers and this broad coalition of advocates are making a final push for increased arts education funding due to the failure to meet state standards for arts education at far too many schools and recognition that arts education is essential for educating the whole child.  

Council Members, including Majority Leader Keith Powers, Chair of Education Committee Rita Joseph, and Chair of Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations Chi Ossé, pledged to fight for increased funding for arts education recognizing the importance of arts education for all students as an integral component of learning. Majority Leader Keith Powers stated “I am proud to fight for our students to have universal access to an arts education. The arts are so much more than an “extra” curricular. They are essential. We’re really, really fighting to make sure that we make another investment, another down payment into arts education, and guarantee that every school in New York has an arts education program.” Council Member Rita Joseph concurred, stating “arts education is essential within our school system, and it cannot be seen as an afterthought. It is time for us to educate the whole child and invest in the arts. By doing this we will open doors of opportunities for New York City students.”

Students and educators illustrated the transformative power of arts education by sharing stories about how arts education helps process and overcome trauma. Richard Young Jr., a graduate from Celia Cruz Bronx High School of Music, reported that the arts helped him process the death of his parents. Arts education was identified as key in post-pandemic recovery by arts educator Judith Insell, Executive Director of Bronx Arts Ensemble who said, “the approach to supporting students in a post-pandemic era “Starts with The Arts”. She continued, “Bronx Arts Ensemble has found that our Bronx students are meeting the challenges of their residual pandemic trauma by utilizing our arts education courses to help them heal, reflect, and renew their spirit as they continue to meet the daily challenges of their lives.”

The rally concluded with an inspiring operatic performance by a student who learned opera in a NYC public school music program and with City Council and NYC Arts in Education Roundtable leaders calling for community support advocating for arts education funding in the final weeks of budget negotiation.

Four Freedoms Democratic Club was proud to attend this rally to support increased funding of arts education in the city budget as part of its advocacy for arts education led by the Education Working Group pursuant to FFDC’s resolution supporting arts education in public schools.

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