In the Birmingham City School System's ever-changing diversity, the arts serve as an essential bridge across language and cultural differences and build linkage, both within and between communities. The Birmingham City Schools offer opportunities for students to participate in art, band, general music, theater/drama, choir, orchestra and debate.
Jane Alexander, chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts, said it best:
"When we teach a child to sing or play the flute, we teach her how to listen. When we teach her to draw, we teach her to see. And about space and, when he acts on stage, he learns about character and motivation. When we teach a child design, we reveal the geometry of the world. When we teach children about folk art and traditional art and the great master pieces of the world, we teach them to celebrate their roots and find their own place in history."
By bringing the arts into the center of school life, students begin to slip into the journey of learning with full absorption. The arts are a means for putting things together so that students can have a relevant experience. They transform something ordinary into something extraordinary because it has personal meaning. Learning becomes an active journey that leads to self discovery.
The arts are a vital and indispensable part of a comprehensive education for every student, fostering each student's development into a responsible citizen. A comprehensive education must include a balanced, sequential, high-quality program of instruction in the arts. It is also recognized that in our multicultural state, the arts build bridges and help students broaden their perspectives and understand their world and the diverse cultural influences that surround them. Communication, imagination and information are keys to career opportunities, a better education and a life-long appreciation of the arts. Exposure to and participation in the arts will enhance a students' creativity, critical thinking and problem solving abilities, as well as improve students' performance skills in other core subject areas, goals often not met through other means.
The arts enable student to build self-esteem and self discipline, to work cooperatively within groups and to effectively express themselves. Integrating the arts into other subject areas improves academic achievement, motivates attendance, increases test scores, promotes involvement and encourages disciplined behavior.
Every child can and should participate in the arts, regardless of talent, ability, culture, ethnicity or socioeconomic group. Arts programs in the schools must continue to be supported by the highest quality education and outreach programs within the cultural community. The arts contribute to building a productive and forward-thinking workforce by teaching skills and competencies required by an informational based economy.