By Joe Neubauer
and Deirdre Connelly
Painting involves chemistry. Sculpture requires an understanding of geometry, gravity, and - in the case of the human form as subject - anatomy. Music is math brought to life. Why then, do we sometimes view arts education as less than essential to developing well-rounded students?
A solid education in the arts helps children learn how to debate, exchange ideas, and discover new ways of seeing, thinking, and perceiving the world around them. We need more inquisitive and creative minds in the workforce. We want multidimensional thinkers pursuing careers in public service. That's why investing in arts education is more than a "nice to have" - it is critical.
Research indicates that learning through the arts has positive effects on learning in other areas. For example, multiple years of enrollment in arts courses are positively correlated with higher SAT verbal and math scores. Kids who are inspired to learn through the arts are more likely to stay in school. These same children are more likely to grow up to be successful in companies like ours and to be leaders in our communities.
Now that the Barnes Foundation is on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, it can welcome students and teachers at every grade level into its extraordinary new space. Since 2012, the Barnes has engaged in robust local outreach that includes onsite student programs and visits to schools, all tied to a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) curriculum. With arts funding at risk across our city, and indeed the nation, the Barnes Foundation smART Fund for Education, established by GlaxoSmithKline, will help endow support for these efforts going forward.
GSK's mission is to help people do more, feel better, and live longer. To achieve this, the company must go beyond the business of medicines. Health begins where we live, learn, work, and play, and our schools play a key role in health. In fact, the more education a person has, the healthier he is likely to be. For children, the more engaging the educational experience, the more they will want to learn, and continue to learn across a lifetime.
That's why GSK has established this endowment to support K-8 arts education for economically disadvantaged youths in Philadelphia. And we hope other like-minded individuals, foundations, and corporations will help.
There are few things more gratifying than to see a child experience beauty and complexity, and to watch her learn and grow from the experience. This endowment will help ensure that many more children will have that chance. Let's paint brighter futures for those most in need.