Arts Education Programs
Arts & Minds
The Riverside Arts Council’s Arts and Minds arts education program is comprised of artist/teacher partnerships as well as workshops, assemblies and less structured residences. With California Arts Council funding, partnerships have been formed in a number of county schools and communities, such as Lake Elsinore, Perris, Mead Valley, Indio, Nuevo, Corona-Norco, Coachella and Riverside over the last 19 years. The Riverside Arts Council designs each residency project to meet the specific needs of the school or community site being served. To emphasize literacy and other curricular skills, professional artist work as trainers and partners with teachers and site directors, incorporating the California Department of Education’s Framework for the Visual and Performing Arts and Content Standards as they integrate the arts in K-8 curricula. When the California Arts Council suspended grants in 2003, the Riverside Arts Council continued to provide standards-based arts education in after-school programs. Mead Valley Unified School District is home to Manuel Real Elementary, which credits the Riverside Arts Council’s arts education program with contributing to the historically low-performing school’s 147-point jump in its Academic Performance Index scores and positive changes in school and neighborhood culture.
Project Safe Neighborhood
In January of 2005, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and the San Jacinto Police Department implemented the Riverside County District Attorney’s Project Safe Neighborhood program based on recommendations from Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco. Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Gerry Lopez, Chairperson of PSN, coordinated resources and provided a focus on gang intervention to pilot the program. PSN calls for a multifaceted response involving county, city, school districts and community groups. The program focuses on prevention and intervention strategies such as parent, community and school staff education, service projects, mentoring, student extracurricular activities, and life skills classroom education. According to Deputy District Attorney Gerry Lopez, “One of the most powerful and effective formulas to lead young people towards the path of success is to connect them with positive, inspiring adults, involve them in fun and rewarding activities, teach them to overcome their insecurities, and help them discover their talents and abilities. The Riverside Arts Council does a masterful job of executing this formula. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office and participating school districts are very impressed with, and extremely grateful for the Riverside Arts Council’s partnership with Project Safe Neighborhoods and their commitment towards helping at-risk youth.” Utilizing the California State Visual and Performing Arts Standards, the Riverside Arts Council fulfills the extracurricular activities component with its arts enrichment program. “Using the arts as an empowerment and skill-building tool, the project goal is to help at-risk youth to continue their education and gain respect for others and themselves,” says Patrick Brien, the Riverside Arts Council’s Executive Director. “In addition, the collaborative and communicative elements built into the specific disciplines selected for each unit offer the opportunity to teach workplace skills such as communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. The resulting sense of self-esteem will reduce the need to find a sense of belonging through gang activity.”
Art as Therapy
Faced with declining skills and increased isolation, maintaining connections to the world becomes increasingly important to the elderly. The arts can provide opportunity for improved self-awareness and communication. Issues such as loss, illness, depression and restoration of hope are addressed through therapy in music and art. According to a National Endowment for the Arts concept paper, NEA studies show that incorporating the arts into health care benefits both patients and caregivers. Art-related activities in nursing facilities, hospitals and hospices can help patients relax, socialize, find solace or express grief, loss and other emotions, as well as help rejuvenate caregivers experiencing depression, fatigue and burnout. Some research has shown that patients engaged in creative activities require less pain medication and experience fewer bouts of depression.“The arts have an extraordinary ability to enhance our lives, to help us heal and to bring us comfort in times of great stress,” said NEA chairman Dana Gioia. “We must reconnect the arts with the actual human existence that Americans lead, the journeys we take in life which lead us through hospitals, to hospices, to the end of life.”Visual art, music, theatre and dance have proven effective in stimulating memory recall which contributes to reminiscence and satisfaction with life, positive changes in mood and emotional states, a sense of control over life through successful experiences, anxiety and stress reduction, and pain and discomfort management. Music, for instance, promotes rhythmic and continuous physical movement and vocal fluency as an adjunct to physical rehabilitation and offers opportunities to interact socially with others. The arts can reach even those seniors resistant to other treatment approaches due to the familiarity, predictability and feelings of security associated with music. "The degree to which function can be recovered is phenomenal and we are just tapping in to the extent that we can get recovery following stroke or injury or disease. We hope that music might play a particularly important role in helping the regeneration of those cells, in helping the individual learn to interpret the pattern and essentially to help that person learn again," says Joseph Aresso, Ph.D., Vice Chairman, Department of Neuroscience, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York.
In 1995, ProjectBRIDGE (Building Resources for the Intervention and Deterrence of Gang Engagement) was established through a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention, and is a nationally recognized program for gang prevention, intervention, and suppression. From May 1995 to August 1998, the project was administered by the University of California, Riverside, Office of Education and Community Initiatives. In September 1998, the lead agency became the City of Riverside. The project is the result of community collaborative efforts committed to reducing the incidence of youth gang violence. Riverside County Juvenile Probation Department; City of Riverside Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department; Alvord, and Riverside Unified School Districts; Riverside County Office of Education; California Baptist University; University of California, Riverside, Robert Presley Center for Crime and Justice; and various community-based organizations are key participants. The mission of ProjectBRIDGE (Building Resources for the Intervention and Deterrence of Gang Involvement) is to transform positively the lifestyle of gang-involved youth and their families and reduce gang violence in the community.