Arts4All Florida provides meaningful learning experiences that increase artistic skills, foster creativity, promote social skills, and provide new ways of communication.
Each year, Arts4All Florida provides direct services to at least 55 counties in Florida and serves over 50,000 individuals with and without disabilities, as we endeavor to create a world in which the arts are universally accessible.
During the 2017-2018 program year, Arts4All Florida:
- Directly served over 49,600 people through 457 programs in 64 counties in Florida. An additional 20,776 students were impacted directly through teacher trainings. 87% of our programs were provided free of charge.
- Served 3,029 students in 196 schools and Department of Juvenile Justice facilities through multi-week artist residency programs, conducting 1,680 hours of residency programs.
- Trained 708 teachers, teaching artists, museum staff, and cultural organization professionals on accessibility and accommodations.
- Participated in 15 exhibitions of art by students and adults with disabilities.
- Hosted our fifth year of our "Animation Gets Real" summer camp for 57 teens with autism and related disabilities in Tampa and Miami.
- Served over 1,300 people through our “From Backstage to Center Stage with James Durbin” event.
- Employed teaching artists to conduct programs and classes, injecting $207,464 into Florida’s economy.
For over 36 years, Arts4All Florida has provided programs that make it possible for people with disabilities to contribute to the social, cultural, and economic life of Florida. Our programs have demonstrated long-term success in increasing artistic skills, fostering creativity, promoting social skills, creating self-confidence, teaching marketable skills, and providing new ways of communication for people with disabilities.
Did you know….
- Arts education provides skills critical to 21st-century success. While studying the arts, students hone their perceptual, analytic, and interpretive skills as well as develop their creative thinking, communications and problem-solving abilities.
- All Arts4All Florida artist in residence programs are tied directly to the Florida Standards and meet an average of 13 unduplicated standards per residency. Besides standards in the arts, classroom teachers felt that lessons during the 2017-2018 school year successfully incorporated standards in special skills (94% of classes), language arts (82%), and mathematics (79%). In addition, 86% of teachers reported the art activities helped most or almost all students increase their creative thinking and use of imagination.
- The arts improve academic performance. A recent study conducted by Florida State University of 197,932 twelfth grade seniors showed a strong relationship between students who participated in school arts experiences and higher academic success. High school art students had a 15% higher GPA and averaged 6.5% higher than non-art students on SAT verbal (Center for Fine Arts Education, 2013).
- For the 2017-2018 school year, 84% of teachers reported the art activities helped most or almost all students increase their communication and/or verbal expression and learn new vocabulary. ___% of residencies were conducted in high school classrooms.
- Art exercises can improve social skills for students with disabilities. Students with learning disabilities tested against a comparison group before and after drama exercises showed clear improvement in social skills like courtesy to others, self-control, focus on classwork, and following directions. The benefits were sustained when tested two months after the end of the program (“Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development”, 2002).
- For the 2017-2018 school year, 87% of teachers reported the art activities helped most or almost all students express themselves in new ways and learn to work cooperatively and/or share tools and materials.
- Art experiences help low-income and at-risk youth. Art students on free or reduced lunch scored 33 points higher on SAT math and 51 points higher on SAT verbal than their non-art peers. They were 4 times more likely to have high academic achievement and 3 times more likely to have high attendance. The advantages of the arts on low-income students actually increased over time. Art students were more likely than their peers to have attended and done well in college, built careers, volunteered in their community and voted (“Re-investing in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools”, 2011).
- 69% of Arts4All Florida artist in residence programs are at low-income and/or rural schools or Department of Juvenile Justice facilities.
- While not all students with disabilities will pursue the arts as a career path, arts activities provide teens valuable experience in transition skills for whatever future path they follow. For those students that do want to continue on into a career in the arts, the research is not encouraging. A three-year National Endowment for the Arts’ (NEA) study on careers in the arts for people with disabilities, found that “at each step in the development of an artistic career- from initial aspiration, to formal training and education, to ultimately undertaking a career in the arts- people with disabilities face low expectations, lack of access, and overt discrimination” (Finger, 2010); furthermore, lack of knowledge of accommodations, technology, and alternative art forms keeps many artists from receiving the training needed to pursue a career in the arts.
- Arts4All Florida has made a strong push for teaching artists to include transition skills (skills that will help students with disabilities or at-risk students transition from high school to the workforce, higher education, or independent living) in residencies for students in grade nine and above, and according to classroom teachers during the 2017-2018 school year, 75% of high school residencies included these skills.
- A Creativity and Aging Study found that art programs run by professional artists had positive effects on the health of the participants, including adults with disabilities. In addition, studies by the National Parkinson’s Foundation and others have found that exercise can improve physical problems associated with Parkinson’s, while researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine discovered that dance can improve brain health.
- Since 2016, Arts4All Florida has partnered with the St. Petersburg Therapeutic Recreation Department, Healthy St. Pete, and the Senior Services Foundation, to provide our “Dancing Through Parkinson’s” program, which offers those with Parkinson’s Disease and their caregivers an opportunity for physical activity within a social context. Our trained dance instructor uses music and dance as a means to incorporate balance, movement, cognitive attention and memory, mental creativity, and building/rebuilding self-confidence within a life that has been altered by Parkinson’s Disease.
The following stories and pictures underscore the power of VSA Florida’s programs:
“[Our Teaching Artist] brought out compassion and manners from this student. He did things for/with her that I never thought he would do and accomplish.” - Classroom Teacher, Volusia County- Tomoka Elementary
“One of my students has trouble communicating and during our time with the artist he was very verbal. He was even making choices without prompting.”- Classroom Teacher, Pasco County- Connerton Elementary
“G is the only student in the class that uses a wheelchair. He and the rest of the class are used to the constant reminders of the teachers and staff to be careful and to not get too close to the chair. So when I suggested interaction with the chair as a way of creating relationships, he was in heaven. He blossomed [and] discovered something new and we all cheered for him.” - Lucia Lund, Teaching Artist, Miami-Dade County- Hialeah High School
“One of the surprise benefits of this program was an increase in my student’s verbal skills. I have one student with a severe language disability. He rarely spoke in sentences of more than three words. During one of the sessions the students were mixing primary colors to create new colors. This student said, “I mixed blue and red. I made purple.” - Classroom Teacher, Duval County- Biltmore Elementary
“One student uses a wheelchair and hasn’t had many opportunities for onstage performances. She is a cheerleader at the school and loves to perform but wanted most to perform on a stage for an audience. She was ecstatic to learn she was going to be the main star in the opening of the dance. She told me I ‘made her dream come true” and helped “check something off her bucket list”. - Destinee Rhodes, Teaching Artist, Brevard County- Titusville High