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Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet
Kentucky Arts Council

Tom Musgrave

Arts First Aid Grant to Help Strengthen
Arts Curriculum in Kentucky Schools

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 2, 2018) — Schools that want to improve the quality of their arts curriculum and classroom experiences can apply for a multifaceted arts education grant from the Kentucky Arts Council.

Through a partnership between the Kentucky Arts Council and Kentucky Department of Education, the Arts First Aid grant provides Kentucky school administrators, teachers and students with a high quality intensive arts education experience that aligns curriculum with the Kentucky Academic Standards for the Arts. The program makes use of technical-assistance consultancies utilizing the Specialists with Arts Tactics (SWAT) program, artist residencies through the arts council’s Teaching Art Together program and school performances/presentations.

Any Kentucky public school, grades pre-K through 12, may apply.

Owsley County Elementary School received an Arts First Aid grant last year, serving about 200 students in second through fourth grades. With the grant, the school brought in several teaching artists, including Devonna Hisel, who helped students apply mathematical principles to making quilt patterns; songwriter Mitch Barrett, who worked with students to create a song about their community; and Judy Sizemore and Octavia Sexton, who taught students about creative writing and storytelling.

“This grant meant a lot to the school and to the teachers,” said Glenn Baker, community education director and grant writer for Owsley County Schools. “They’re going to take what was taught in the class and continue that in future years. With Devonna Hisel making quilt patterns, one of our fourth grade teachers is going to use that in math lessons. Another teacher is going to use the original songs Mitch Barrett brought with him in lessons with her clogging students, and our third grade teachers are going to incorporate the arts into literacy.”

Another component funded by Arts First Aid is a Showcasing the Arts program, and Owsley County Elementary brought in the Somerset folk duo LaMay & Reese to play for third graders and talk about how to put together a song.

“This grant provided the help needed to bring art alive and to make it flourish in an impoverished area that’s let it slip from its grasp, somewhat,” Baker said. “It was the aid to build and sustain a strong arts program.”

Grants like Arts First Aid are a valuable component for schools wanting to inject momentum into their arts curricula, said Kyle Lee, academic standards coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Teaching and Learning.

“As schools and districts are continually being asked to do more with less, the Arts First Aid grant is an amazing resource currently available that will help alleviate burdens while strengthening quality arts opportunities and access for Kentucky’s public school students,” Lee said.

For more information on Arts First Aid or to apply, contact Jean St. John, arts council arts education director, at or 502-892-3124.

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The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, fosters environments for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.