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When schools can’t afford arts programming, Pontiac’s Community Art Lab steps in

Judy Wilson
Art supplies ready for students at the Community Art Lab in Pontiac.

The Next Idea

Budget cuts for school districts are increasingly a way of life. Often, the first things to go when money gets tight are music and art programs. 

But there is both anecdotal and scientific evidence that arts improve kids’ overall learning in a number of ways.

Director of the Art Experience in Pontiac Judy Wilson joined Stateside to tell us about the nonprofit that has taken on the mission of bringing back art for young people whose schools may or may not be able to afford it. Their latest project is the Community Art Lab, a storefront where anyone in the community can have access to art making experiences.

According to Wilson, the arts develop skills for children that businesses and corporations are finding in short supply among new hire candidates.

“Art making or creative endeavors, I often call it, affords kids the chance to use their imagination,” Wilson said. “To play with art elements, whether it’s visual arts, movement, music, creative writing, theater and that activity actually engages cognitive processes that are often underutilized in our current academic settings.”

Some of the skills Art Experience aims to foster include abstract and critical thinking, whole big-picture thinking, problem identifying and solving skills, and communication.

For more information about the Community Art Lab fundraiser click here

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