Our county is fortunate to have passionate support for the arts in local schools, but we need your participation. Arts organizations depend upon the help of residents to thrive, grow, and provide outreach. If you are in South County, the Clark Center Arts in Education Outreach Program provides programming for the students of the largest school district in our county, Lucia Mar Unified.

The Poly Arts for Youth (PAYF) program is Cal Poly Arts’ education enrichment program for students of all ages throughout the county. Studios on the Park in Paso Robles, and the Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation partner with the community to provide a series of art outreach programs that enrich our community. Opera San Luis Obispo and Vina Robles Amphitheatre will be offering an outreach opportunity for all North County students this May for the third year running. These are just a few of the arts non-profits that stoke the embers of SanLuis Obispo County’s creative spirit.

According to the recent Arts and Economic Prosperity Survey, San Luis Obispo County arts and arts-related activities enhance our local economy with approximately 27 million in funding and expenditures. Art is one of the most popular Career & Technical Education (CTE) pathways selected by San Luis Obispo County students. The Central Coast Economic Forecast refers to the positive impact the arts has on our local economy. Our county is growing in cultural and artistic vibrancy because of the dedicated individuals that make the central coast their home.

The San Luis Obispo County Office of Education is asking anyone interested in providing support to contact my office directly at (805)-782-7201 or jbrescia@slocoe.org. My office intends to offer additional arts-based partnerships supporting the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Fundamentally, the intent of this federal iteration first signed into law under the 1965 Johnson Administration remains the same: to provide supplemental funds and programs for low-income students and to enable State and Local Educational Agencies to improve access and quality of elementary and secondary education.

Students who participate in the arts build a sense of community, communication skills, collaboration skills, public speaking experience, empathy, and compassion. Researchers link involvement in the arts to better child development and overall higher student achievement. When we provide students access to the arts, the result is higher academic performance, a medium for self-expression, improved confidence and self-presentation skills, advanced problem-solving and perseverance skills, as well as empathy and compassion.

Today more than ever we need to foster positive, peaceful avenues of self-expression in our schools. It is an honor to serve as your county superintendent, and I hope that this article will spark discussion among all educational stakeholders about the power of becoming involved in arts outreach as a volunteer, patron or participant.