Classical music titans Yo-Yo Ma and Renée Fleming joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in announcing a $10 million private donation to promote arts education in the Chicago Public School system.
The funds will go toward the city’s goal of raising $38 million to realize the CPS Arts Education Plan, which calls for elementary schools to offer 120 minutes of arts education programming each week. The plan also will attempt to provide at least one certified arts teacher for every Chicago public school, and offer dance and drama instruction at all grade levels.
The announcement was made Oct. 21 at Benito Juárez Community Academy in Pilsen. Ma, the CSO’s Judson and Joyce Green Judson Creative Consultant, and Fleming, creative consultant for Lyric Opera of Chicago, appeared at the event to lend their support. They also participated in an informal concert with Benito Juárez students.
“Our view is this is fundamentally part of what an education should be, and so we’re building this into the way kids get an education in the city of Chicago,” said David Vitale, president of the Chicago Board of Education in a statement. “I think, in too many places, arts is sort of an add-on program. We’re saying ‘No, that’s not enough.’ “
ABOVE: Yo-Yo Ma (right), Judson and Joyce Green Judson Creative Consultant of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Renée Fleming, creative consultant for Lyric Opera of Chicago, lead students at Benito Juárez Community Academy in an informal performance. | Photo: John T. Merkle