WATSONVILLE — This month at 11 schools across Santa Cruz County, parents, grandparents and children will spend an evening together dancing, singing, storytelling and creating visual artworks under the guidance of professional teaching artists at a Family Arts Night event.
Family Arts Nights were created by Arts Council Santa Cruz County with the goal of giving every student in Santa Cruz County access to arts education. Art Council’s programs reach more than 17,000 students in Santa Cruz County.
Special Teaching Resources in the Arts (SPECTRA), an Arts Council education program, first begun in 1980 and Mariposa’s Arts, an after-school mentoring program, are working together on the series of family events.
Research has shown that student involvement in the arts is linked to higher academic performance, increased standardized test scores and lower dropout rates. Arts education fosters critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and innovation, and is required by the state as part of K-12 education. But due to funding disparities, many schools, especially in South Santa Cruz County, are not meeting these state requirements.
“We work with schools, administrators and teachers to create options for integrating arts in ways that work with the classroom, culture and budget of each school,” said Arts Council’s Arts Education Director Sarah Brothers. “SPECTRA brings professional artists into schools and Mariposa's Art provides leadership development to high school students hired to teach art to elementary school students. Family Arts Nights provide an additional avenue for families to experience art, music and dance together.”
The event includes a free dinner.
“The Arts Council’s collaborative approach is working,” said Audrey Sirota, County Office of Education’s Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator. “Just in the last couple of years, Pajaro Valley Unified School District — working with the Santa Cruz County Alliance for Arts Education — has adopted an arts plan which brought in new funding from the state to more than double their credentialed art teaching staff from 25 to 57.”
The following Family Arts Night events are planned:
• Starlight Elementary, March 6 at 6 p.m.
• Shoreline Middle, March 7 at 6 p.m.
• Ohlone, March 8 at 6 p.m.
• MacQuiddy, March 13 at 6 p.m.
• Green Acres, March 14 at 5:30 p.m.
• Radcliff, March 15 at 6 p.m.
• Hall District, March 20 at p.m.
• Mintie White, March 21 at p.m.
• Live Oak, March 22 at 6 p.m.
• H.A. Hyde, March 27 at 5:30 p.m.
• Del Mar, March 28 at 6 p.m.