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The Center for Arts Education (CAE) is a nonprofit organization in New York City, New York, in the United States. It promotes arts education in the public schools and between 1996 and 2008 spent nearly $40 million. It claimed to have affected over 500 schools, 490,000 students, 21,000 teachers and 75,000 parents and to have supported more than 400 cultural organizations.[1]


The Center for Arts Education was founded in 1996 to restore and sustain arts education in New York City's public schools after two decades of system-wide cutbacks in funding for arts programs. The fiscal budget crisis of the 1970s[2] immediately impacted the City's commitment to arts education. Budget cuts resulted in teacher layoffs and the gradual abandonment of the arts as essential to academic development.[3] For the next twenty years, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers experienced a K-12 education without instruction in arts education, aside from schools with private funding.

In the early 1990s, the New York City Board of Education, New York City's cultural institutions, and private-sector foundations grew increasingly alarmed by the changes. By 1991, two-thirds of New York City schools had no licensed art or music teachers.

In 1993 Walter Annenberg announced the single largest gift ever made to American public education, the Annenberg Challenge,[4] a half-billion dollar, five-year challenge grant designed to support efforts at school reform throughout the country. In a collaboration, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and Board of Education envisioned a five-year plan, The Annenberg Arts and Education Initiative,[5] to initiate arts education reform. This plan, created under the guidance of consulting firm Artsvision, proposed a model for institutionalizing arts education in NYC public schools.

In March 1996, The Annenberg Foundation approved the proposal[6] and The Center for Arts Education was created to administer the initiative, serve as a liaison and oversee the distribution of funding. The Annenberg plan established CAE as an independent agency that was administratively distinct from the BOE. The initiative began with a two-to-one $12 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation, to be matched by a $12 million investment each from the public and private sectors, for a total $36 million.

In 2001 Annenberg Foundation provided another $12 million challenge grant to CAE to continue its work. This grant was to be matched by an $12 million that would be used to fund additional rounds of Partnership grants. CAE also used this second challenge grant to fund new programs that permitted parents to take part in arts education, expose teenagers to arts careers and enable existing Partnership schools to share their successes with other schools.

Public school reformEdit

The cornerstone of the Annenberg Challenge effort was the creation of "arts partnerships" in which schools, working with orchestras, museums, dance groups, theater companies, community-based organizations and other groups to institutionalize school-wide arts programs and promote school reform. In 1997, 81 of New York City's public schools were awarded the first of these three-year "Partnership Grants" to form collaborations with cultural and community-based organizations, creating an arts curricula tailored to meet the individual needs of each school. By supporting the use of the New York City's cultural resources, CAE provided a link that made institutions, ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Pregones Theater Company in the South Bronx, an integral part of the public school system.

Over one-third of public schools applied for the $75,000 partnership grants through CAE, and while 81 schools received a grant, hundreds did not. In response, BOE, with support from former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, created Project ARTS, the first system-wide per capita funds for the arts since the mid-seventies.[7] Project ARTS, used for the training and hiring of arts teachers as well as arts supplies, laid the groundwork for the Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts, the first citywide arts curriculum since original cutbacks.[8]


CAE offers family engagement programs, professional development opportunities for the education industry and career development training for high school students. CAE's programs include:

  • Parents As Arts Partners Grant: supports arts activities for parents and children. The PAAP grant, which funds 150 schools, engages families with hands-on interactive arts experiences, including workshops with Teaching artists and visits to cultural organizations.
  • Career Development Program: provides high school students with school-to-career preparation and work experience in the creative industries. Students access creative industries with career training that results in an internship. In 2007 CAE created a website that expands the reach of CDP beyond New York City to engage students, teachers and mentors in the many career opportunities available in the creative industries. CAE also offers careers in the Arts Summer Institute (CITASI) to offer students, teachers, counselors, administrators and parents a deeper awareness of career opportunities.
  • School Arts Support Initiative: launched in Spring 2008 in partnership with The New York Times Company Foundation and the New York City Department of Education to provide funding and additional in-kind professional support to three New York City public schools with little or no arts education. SASI grants went to MS 267: Math, Science and Technology Institute in Bedford Stuyvesant, JS 231: Magnetech/Tri-Community Jr. High School in Queens and MS 223: The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology in the South Bronx to assess their arts education needs, engage appropriate providers of arts education and then implement arts education curricula.


My Child, the Arts and Learning: A Guide for Parents, PreK-Second Grade was published in August 2007 in nine languages. CAE created the guide to help parents understand the benefits of and need for arts education. The guide provides parents with resources including, New York City and New York State arts requirements, which states every public school child is legally entitled to arts education. It was widely distributed throughout public schools and the New York Public Library.[9]

A Decade of Progress is an 88-page report published by CAE in September 2007. It chronicles the movement to restore arts education in NYC public schools. The publication includes a companion DVD "A Decade of Progress" DVD Nominated for ARTS PROGRAMING AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE by Ovation (TV channel), December 13, 2007 narrated by Anna Deavere Smith and provides exclusive segments with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, then-School's Chancellor Joel Klein, and United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten about the importance of and need for arts education in schools and the community.

In September 2007, CAE launched "ArtSmart New York",[10] an advocacy campaign intended to raise awareness about arts education. CAE awarded New York City Council Members Robert Jackson (NYC) and Dominic Recchia the first ArtSmart award for their continued support.


CAE formed a Board of Directors to include representatives from the private and public sector, including the schools’ Chancellor Rudy Crew, Giuliani[11] and the Commissioner of the City of New York Cultural Affairs. Klein, Bloomberg and Commissioner Kate D. Levin represented the public sector. Richard Kessler, former executive director of CAE, was one of the principal authors of the plan that led to the creation of the CAE in 1996 while serving as an arts education consultant for Artsvision.

Other Board members included:

  • Jody Gottfried Arnhold, Chairman, Board of Directors of Ballet Hispanico
  • Richard A. Barasch, Chairman and CEO of Universal American Financial Corporation
  • Jill Braufman, Board Chair, The Center for Arts Education
  • Schuyler Chapin, Former Commissioner of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, In Memoriam.
  • Kitty Carlisle-Hart, In Memoriam
  • Judith K. Dimon, Chairman of the Education Advisory Board at Children's Aid Society
  • Peter Duchin, President of Peter Duchin Orchestras Inc.
  • John J. Hannan, Apollo Management LP
  • Laurie M. Tisch, Chair Emeritus
  • Bruce Silverstein, Owner Bruce Silverstein Gallery


  • 2010 Bronze Telly Award for the documentary video MS 223: The Power of Arts Education [12]
  • 2007 Bronze Telly Award for the documentary video A Decade of Progress: 1996-2006 [13]
  • 2002 NYC Governor's Arts Award
  • 2001 The Arts and Business Council Visionary Award presented to CAE Board Chair Laurie Tisch
  • 2001 New York State Assembly Citation
  • 2000 The Arts and Business Council Encore Award presented to former Executive Director Hollis Headrick
  • 2000 Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani declares Thursday, March 15, 2001 as “The Center for Arts Education Day”


  1. ^ The Center for Arts Education Fact Sheet, 2008.
  2. ^ New York Times Article The Arts Go Back To School, March 15: 1996
  3. ^ New York Times Article New York Schools Grant to Revive Arts Teaching: December 22, 1995
  4. ^ The Annenberg Challenge
  5. ^ Annenberg Arts and Education Initiative
  6. ^ New York Times Article Program Helps Arts In Schools, March 6 1996
  7. ^ New York Times Article An Arts Revival Grows in New York Schools, May 23 1998
  8. ^ New York Times Article Renewed Push for the Artistic ABC's in N.Y., June 26 2006
  9. ^ "The Center for Arts Education Website". Archived from the original on 2008-08-03.
  10. ^ "Education Update - The Center for Arts Education Helps New York Get "Arts Smart"".
  11. ^ "Speech delivered by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announcing the creation of CAE, December 11 1996". Archived from the original on 2006-01-10.
  12. ^ Video [1] MS 223: The Power of Arts Education
  13. ^ Video [2] A Decade of Progress: 1996-2006

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