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Arts for Life! Artist Symposium

June 16, 2016






Xavier Cortada will serve as one of the panelists for the Artist Symposium of the 2016 Arts for Life! Scholarship Program Celebration.

The Artist Symposium provides a group of professional role models for the scholarship recipients.  Each year a group of professional visual and performing artists are chosen to serve on a panel at the Arts for Life! Scholarship Program Luncheon.  These professional artists share their journey with the students as well as college and career advice for continuing their pursuit of the arts.

About Arts for Life!

Mrs. Columba Bush, Florida’s First Lady from 1999 to 2007, is a passionate advocate for the arts and arts education.  In 1999, she established Arts for Life! to recognize the creativity and artistic talents of high school students’ throughout Florida. Since then, the program has awarded scholarships to more than 375 high school seniors.

Annually, Arts for Life! awards $2,000 scholarships to 25 Florida high school seniors who demonstrate academic and artistic excellence in creative writing, dance, drama, music or visual art. In addition to the program’s $2,000 cash award, winners will be automatically eligible to receive a matching in-kind scholarship worth a minimum of $1,000 if they attend a participating Florida institution for higher education.

To qualify, students must be graduating high school seniors in Florida during the current application period and submit a completed application. The application period runs from October 1 – February 2.

Scholarship winners are notified in April and the winning students and their families, teachers and school administrators are invited to an awards luncheon hosted by Jeb and Columba Bush.

The Arts for Life! program is presented by the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable organization launched in 2007 by Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007.  The organization’s mission is to improve the quality of education in classrooms across Florida and the nation by sponsoring innovative programs based on high academic standards, accountability, school choice and quality teaching.

Why are the arts so important, particularly in a child’s education?

The arts not only enrich our lives, communities and culture, but they are vital to a child’s education. A strong arts education promotes the skills children need to be successful. A growing body of studies presents compelling evidence connecting student learning in the arts to a wide array of academic and social benefits. For example, exposure to art education promotes self-directed learning, improves school attendance and sharpens critical and creative skills. Additionally, research has shown that what students learn in the arts may help them to master other subjects, such as reading, math or social studies. The evidence is clear: study of the arts contributes to student achievement and success in school and beyond.

High arts involvement equals higher scores on achievement tests:

  • In a well-documented national study using a federal database of over 25,000 middle and high school students, researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles found students with high arts involvement performed better on standardized achievement tests than students with low arts involvement.
  • Moreover, the high arts-involved students also watched fewer hours of TV, participated in more community service and reported less boredom in school.
  • Several independent studies have shown that high school students who take arts classes have higher math and verbal SAT scores than students who take no arts classes.
  • Also, the more arts classes a student takes, the higher the scores.

“Students in music-performance courses scored 57 points higher on the verbal section of the SAT, and 41 points higher on the math, than did students with no arts participation.” (The College Entrance Examination Board, 2001)

Involvement in the arts makes children smarter:

In 2008, the Dana Foundation released Learning, Arts and the Brain, the Dana Consortium Report on Arts and Cognition, a series of studies conducted by leading neuroscientists from seven prestigious universities.

  • Over a three-year period, the study investigated the question, “Are smart people drawn to the arts or does arts training make people smarter?”
  • The cognitive neuroscientists who participated in the study found a tight correlation between exposure to the arts and improved skills in cognition and attention for learning.
  • One of the study’s major findings was that children motivated in the arts develop attention skills and memory retrieval that also apply to other subject areas.

“9th grade students in the Chicago Arts Partnership in Education (CAPE) program, which integrates arts education with more traditional academic studies, were reading one full grade level ahead of their peers who were not involved in the program.” (Increasing Student Achievement Through The Arts, 2000)

Access to arts education in school benefits youth-at-risk:

  • Studies show that access to arts education in school offers distinct benefits to economically disadvantaged youth and students at risk of dropping out.
  • Students at risk of dropping out of school indicate their participation in the arts as a reason for staying in school.
  • An 11-year national study that examined youth in low income neighborhoods found that those who participated in arts programs were much more likely to:
    • be high academic achievers,
    • be elected to class office,
    • participate in a math or science fair, or
    • win an award for writing an essay or poem.

“High school arts teachers often describe the positive effects of arts education as a strategy for engaging and motivating their at-risk students.” (Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development, 2002)

Creativity and innovation is highly valued by employers:

Several recent studies have concluded that the creativity and innovation utilized in the artistic process will be highly valued by employers in the United States in the coming years as we continue to shift into a global economy.

  • The 2006 report, Are They Really Ready to Work?, issued by The Conference Board, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Corporate Voices for Working Families and the Society for Human Resource Management, found that employers believe that applied skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, and creativity/innovation, will surpass basic knowledge such as reading comprehension, mathematics, science, and history/geography on the combined list of skills that respondents say will increase in importance over the next five years. Of those skills, creativity/innovation ranks among the top five.
  • In a similar study, Ready to Innovate, business leaders agreed that innovation is essential to competitive advantage, and are placing greater value on finding and employing creative workers.
  • The findings also suggest that arts-related study in college was found to be a key creativity indicator to potential employers.

“The nation’s top business executives agree that arts education programs can help repair weaknesses in American education and better prepare workers for the 21st century.” (BusinessWeek, October 1996)


Asbury, Carolyn and Rich, Barbara. Learning, Arts and the Brain: The Dana Consortium Report on Arts and Cognition. Dana Press, New York, NY: 2008.


Deasy, Richard J. Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development. Arts Education Partnership. Washington, D.C.: 2002.


Deasy, Richard and James Catterall. Increasing Student Achievement Through The Arts. American Youth Policy Forum: 2000.


Ruppert, Sandra. Critical Evidence: How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement. National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. Washington, D.C.: 2006


“2010 Final Report, The Role of the Arts in Educating America for Great Leadership and Economic Strength. Americans for the Arts: National Arts Policy Roundtable. Washington, D.C.: 2011



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June 16, 2016
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Lisa K. Raguso, Arts for Life! Program Director
(850) 391-4090
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Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
1300 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL 33132 United States
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