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Michigan Arts organizations take students on a field trip

Allen Park students use grant money to visit the DIA COURTESY PHOTO

Allen Park students use grant money to visit the DIA COURTESY PHOTO

FERNDALE — “Field trip budgets within Michigan’s schools are suffering deep cuts, and the most expensive component is usually the cost of renting a bus,” said Marianne Dorais, executive director of Michigan Youth Arts Association, an alliance of 16 statewide education associations working together to develop high quality arts education programming. That’s why MYAA and the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs are offering $55,000 in grants to cover the transportation costs of arts or culture-related field trips.

“Since creative learning at cultural institutions is critical to a child’s academic development, these transportation grants allow teachers to broaden their school-based curriculum through outside experiences. For many students, this is the first time that they will travel to one of Michigan’s cultural attractions, and hopefully the experience will open their minds to a world of creativity and innovation that they can positively utilize for the rest of their lives,” said Dorais.

MYAA recently released a survey, Arts Education in Michigan, showing 108,000 students go to school each day without some sort of exposure to music, visual art, theatre, dance, or creative writing, and that 45 percent of schools cited transportation costs as a significant barrier to arts-related field trips.

MYAA staff says budget cuts to fine and performing arts programs within Michigan schools have challenged teachers. According to a recipient of last year’s Arts and Culture Trek (as the program is known) grant, “If the grant was not available to us, our students would not have been able to have such a wonderful experience at the Cranbrook Institute of Science … (O)ur students are mostly from families with limited resources. They do not have many chances to venture out of our community and we are grateful these opportunities are provided for them.”

Over the past three years, Arts and Culture Trek grants have supported field trips for more than 32,000 Michigan students, according to a MYA press statement.

The MYAA is encouraging Michigan K-12 teacher to apply for individual grants of up to $500. To register, educators can visit www.michiganyoutharts.org and choose from a list of more than 200 carefully selected arts and cultural institutions that offer educational programming, exhibits, and performances. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit Institute of Arts are popular choices, MYA says. All applications must be submitted on the MYAA Web site by Nov. 15.

— Staff report

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