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PHOTOS: Ensuring that every child has access to the arts

The National Endowment for the Arts hopes a Jacksonville nonprofit can help improve access to arts education in schools. 

The local nonprofit, Cathedral Arts Project, is using a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to analyze districtwide data about which schools offer arts classes and which don’t … and to find ways to make sure all kids have access to art, dance and music classes in school. 

Lucy Chen, vice president of advocacy and community engagement, says 22% of Duval schools receive no outside funding from the community for arts and extracurricular programs. 

"That trend line may be growing because of the pandemic," she said. "So it's important for us to really to highlight where the needs are so additional funders can come in and community supporters can come in and say we are able to help and provide more resources for our children."

The map also helps the district meet needs internally.

"For example, if I'm a principal that needs a field trip, I can go on to the map and see opportunities around my area and connect with partnering sites," Chen said. "So that way, it allows more students to have equitable and assessible access arts education, because not all of the families have that available to them."

The NEA grant will allow the Cathedral Arts Project to hire a new impact and advocacy coordinator to assist with the data analysis, with the goal of ensuring that every child in Jacksonville has access to the arts.

Chen said Jacksonville is one of just seven cities in the country that has created a database showing the relationship between school demographics and access to arts education. 

Claire joined WJCT as a reporter in August 2021. She was previously the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. During her time in East Tennessee, her coverage of the COVID pandemic earned a Public Media Journalists’ Association award for investigative reporting. You can reach Claire at (904) 250-0926 or on Twitter @ClaireHeddles.