An arts advocacy organization in Philadelphia has issued the first of a series of reports outlining how, exactly, the arts benefit the city.
The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance has begun compiling research about the economic, educational, and health benefits of the arts. The first release is about pre-kindergarten programs.
It’s no coincidence “Agenda: Pre-K” is being released just as Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is pushing his budget policy to pay for more pre-kindergarten programs. A lot of people are putting a lot of thought into Pre-K right now, and the GPCA wants to leverage that.
“You may intuitively know, my kid learned more words from singing this song, or my kid as better spatial relationships because they’ve been playing with colors and shapes,” said Maud Lyon, president of the Cultural Alliance. “But to have it documented by what difference this makes cumulatively over time is really important.”
“Agenda: Pre-K” brings together existing scientific research into a compact, 8-page report, highlighting programs such as Settlement Music School’s Kaleidescope program, which showed kids who participated in peforming arts activities had lower levels of cortisol, a chemical related to high stress.
It also summarizes a project at Mi Casita, a pre-K school in the Faimount neighborhood, that tracked children over several years who participated in arts programs. It showed they developed better language and social skills.
Lyon would like to see used as ammunition for policy and advocacy.
“Legislators, business leaders, advocates for pre-K — those people don’t have time to plow through long research reports,” she said. “This is intended to be a compact summary of the essential points, so people understand the effect of the arts, and understand it’s backed by real research.”
This pre-K report is the first of a series of “Agenda” reports to be released in the next three years, each with a different focus on the benefits of the arts: on health, on the economy, and on community development