Importance of the Arts
in Education

A conversation with Heather Moses, Arts Coordinator

Background

I worked in theater and TV Film Production, so I started writing grants for my son's school when he was in Kindergarten. I began working with the Front Theater and Center Theater Collaborative program eight years ago. Two years ago, I became the Arts Coordinator and one year ago, I became the Frost Theater manager.

What makes CCUSD unique? Our community really understand how to support the arts. First, we are leading the way with art-focused Career Technical Education pathways, like the Academy of Visual Arts CTE pathway at the high school. We have theater, technical theater, dance and we are adding film next year. The CTE pathways are the new theater pathways. The second most unique thing is our partnerships. For example, we partner with a multitude of arts and media companies, including Sony, museums, local colleges, non-profits, and several theatre groups, to enrich the learning environment here.  

Describe your vision for arts partnerships: It starts with reaching out to partners and gauging how they want to be involved. For many of our partners, working alongside students relates directly to their company vision. 

It’s critical that we develop partnership opportunities that go beyond funding. We must find ways for our partners to be on campus. At the same time, we need to bring our visual arts into community, displaying student work outside of school and inviting the community to participate.

Is the current environment preventing you from achieving your vision, if at all? The middle and high schools are very welcoming to partners, but there is more difficulty at the elementary level. To deepen partnerships, we need to get them involved with kids. The Young Storytelling program is a good example. Companies can come and work for four hours, as a trial run, then commit longer term if they are interested in our 10-week program. This community is very arts friendly. At the elementary schools, there are issues regarding equity in the arts because of funding disparities. Schools with parents who can raise more funding end up with better and more robust facilities.

How should the environment change or look different in the future? Crossing the disciplines of arts and science is good for project-based learning. You can use the arts to compliment both science and math.  It is easily integrated into any subject, and it is a great way to engage students. The arts are important because they bring joy and wonder to both teaching and learning. It is a fact that theater helps with social and emotional learning, empathy, confidence, perspective taking, and literacy.