Kennedy Center Partners With Duval Schools For Arts Education

Aug 22, 2013

The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is partnering with Duval County Public Schools to enhance arts education for students in kindergarten through eighth-grade.

The Washington, D.C.-based national arts advocacy organization announced the partnership today at Central Riverside Elementary School in Jacksonville.

(L-R) Darryl Ayers of the Kennedy Center, Kimberly Hyatt, exec. dir. Cathedral Arts Project, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, Duval School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti, school board vice-chair Becki Couch, school board member Paula Wright.
Credit Cyd Hoskinson / WJCT

Kennedy Center Vice President of Education and Jazz Darrell Ayers said the coming nine months will be spent talking to educators, business leaders and arts groups about what the partnership will entail.

“We’re going to be looking at how can there be better access and equity to all the arts organizations and all the arts experiences that are here in Jacksonville, and to ensure that every child, not just those that can afford it or from a certain side of the city, but that every child has the arts as part of their education,” he said.

The Kennedy Center's "Any Given Child" program works with communities to create a long-range arts education plan tailor-made for their individual school system.

Kimberly Hyatt, executive director of the Jacksonville's Cathedral Arts Project, submitted the application to the Kennedy Center. The community took it from there, she says.

“Because we really do have a perfect storm of the mayor, the superintendent, so much going in the city with Art Walk and One Spark and (the Jacksonville Public Education Fund's) ONE by ONE with education, it was just the perfect storm to be the right time,” Hyatt said.

Jacksonville Public Education Fund President Trey Csar is pleased with the partnership

“One of the key priorities in the ONE by ONE community agreement, as well as the district’s strategic plan, is educating the whole child," he said.  "Arts and music education is a key piece of that. So, the public education fund will be involved along with a number of other community partners.”

school board member Becki Couch says the partnership is a perfect fit.

“We have to reach every child, where they are, and get them to success.  And the key, I think, is through the arts and through their passion for other activities,” she said.

Jacksonville is the 14th U.S. school district the Kennedy Center has partnered with since it began the Any Given Child program in 2009. The Sarasota school district began working with the center in 2011. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story contained a misspelling of the name of Jacksonville Public Education Fund President Trey Csar.