The Gift of Arts Education

By Malcolm White, MAC Executive Director

At this time of year when gifting is heavily on the minds of many, I’m reminded that one of the greatest gifts we can give children is that of a quality education, which of course, includes arts education. The benefits of arts education are innumerable, and we now have decades of research to support the fact that the arts are a highly effective educational tool. The Mississippi Arts Commission has long been in the business of promoting arts education and endeavoring to provide teachers, educators, students and parents with tools and programs to facilitate arts learning.

One of the main ways that we do this is through our Whole Schools Initiative, an arts-integration program which uses the arts as a vehicle to promote high-quality instruction and learning for students in all disciplines. The program is in schools across the state, both public and private. This weekend, we invite you to the Mississippi Arts Center to view student artwork from our WSI member schools at Magnificent Masterpieces. These young artists have worked very hard to produce frame-worthy art that is often connected to lessons from other subject areas. In this way, the Whole Schools Initiative teaches students both in and through the arts. Please come and see for yourself how this program helps children of all backgrounds learn.

Another one of MAC’s marquee arts education initiatives is Poetry Out Loud, a poetry recitation contest created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation for students in grades 9-12. Regional contests will take place the first week of February 2019. The Poetry Out Loud State Recitation Contest will happen on March 5, 2019, and will be televised on Mississippi Public Broadcasting. The winner of the state contest will advance to the national contest in Washington, D.C. Through this program, students learn about literature, develop public speaking skills and build self-confidence. We hope you’ll tune in to see this program in action.

The important work of arts education is plentiful and rewarding. We are proud to play a role in advancing arts education in our state, so that more and more Mississippi children can receive the gift of an arts education each year.