a&c SS 2016_Rena Welcome.qxp_Layout 1 6/2/16 8:58 AM Page 8
One of the key objectives of our biennial Muse Awards event (which you will read about elsewhere in this issue) is to raise funds for cultural field trip opportunities for Palm Beach County students in underserved communities. This couldn’t be more important. It’s critical for young people to have the opportunity to have access to authentic arts and cultural experiences, such as visiting a museum or attending a concert. The Cultural Council of Palm Beach County recently conducted a survey of arts and cultural opportunities available to students in our county and found that, all told, more than 715,000 individual field trip or outreach experiences were provided to students in grades K-12. That’s a staggering number. We also learned that half of the organizations surveyed offered free programming to students in some form. More than 90 percent of cultural organizations surveyed reported that they significantly subsidize their education programs with discounts up to 80 percent of actual admission costs. n n
The cost of student admission to the Palm Beach Zoo is $7.75, compared to the actual cost of $32. Admission to performances in the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts’ STAR series is just $5 per student - and some 76,000 children attended these performances last year. The Norton Museum of Art admits students for free – and buses for field trips are provided at no cost. About 15,000 students took advantage of this opportunity. Palm Beach Dramaworks offers free admission to Palm Beach County schoolchildren.
And the list goes on. The Cultural Council’s most recent “Educational Guide to Art and Culture in Palm Beach County” featured more than 75 organizations offering curriculum-based programming for pre-K through 12th grade students. The Norton Museum, the Kravis Center and other organizations also offer teacher training on a regular basis. Of course, many of these free and reduced-cost opportunities can only be experienced at each organization’s facility. Buses are expensive – approximately $500 for a district school bus and more for private charter buses. The School District of Palm Beach County’s transportation funds for Title I schools (approximately $80,000) are typically depleted by November, leaving the entire rest of the school year uncovered. It’s for reasons such as these that the Cultural Council and its contributors invest in schoolchildren by providing funds for transportation for field trips. The more opportunities students have to experience arts and culture in each organization’s unique environment, the better off they will be. We are committed to this goal and are grateful to everyone who supports the Muse Awards and our other programs that raise funds for these purposes. Palm Beach County’s schoolchildren are grateful, too. You can tell by the smiles on their faces every time they get the chance to expand their horizons.
Rena Blades President and CEO Cultural Council of Palm Beach County