Dallas ArtsPartners

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Dallas ArtsPartners (AP) is a program run by the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization Big Thought and is a community collaboration between the Dallas Independent School District (DISD), the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, and more than 60 professional arts and cultural organizations.

Big Thought’s responsibilities to the program include program design and implementation, private sector fund raising, governance, and fiscal management. Dallas ArtsPartners, recognized as an exemplary program by the Texas School Performance Review, was established in 1998. The initiative was born soon after the Dallas Cultural Affairs Commission Long Range Planning Committee commissioned a study to determine the availability and accessibility of educational outreach programming offered by the city’s arts and cultural institutions. The data collected indicated that while some public schools received multiple performances, residencies, and field trips, many received none. In response to these findings, and recognizing the potential educational benefits of these programs, the City of Dallas teamed with the Dallas Independent School District to create Dallas ArtsPartners.

The Dallas ArtsPartners was designed to:

  1. Provide all DISD elementary students with equal access to high quality arts programs offered by the city’s professional arts and cultural institutions.
  2. Train every DISD elementary classroom teacher to integrate those programs into the curriculum to benefit student academic achievement and learning in the arts and ensure that ArtsPartners is an institutional, sustainable part of Dallas’ school district and cultural community and a suitable model for replication across the nation.

Dallas ArtsPartners coordinates both school day programs that integrate programming across the curriculum, and after school (21st Century Community Learning Centers) and summer (Summer in the City) programs that provide curriculum support. All AP programs directly support the state curriculum standards, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and offer links to every core curriculum subject. Fine Arts TEKS were informed by the National Standards for the Arts.

The estimated 15,000 programs provided by AP’s cultural partners incorporates dozens of arts and cultural disciplines each year and include:

  1. in-school performances
  2. field trip performances
  3. artist residencies
  4. master classes
  5. workshops
  6. guided tours

AP promotes educators’ success in integrating arts and cultural resources into curricula by providing a tiered Professional Development System that employs multiple trainings and educational materials. Every DISD elementary teacher receives AP’s services. AP’s three-year plus longitudinal study examines the effects of AP on students, teachers, and cultural organizations. The study is longitudinal, rigorous, intensive, collaborative and literacy-focused.

Dallas ArtsPartners serves every public elementary school in the city of Dallas; a total of 156 schools, 101,000 children and 6,000 elementary educators.

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