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After-School a Prime Time to Provide Arts Instruction

After-school programs provide a prime setting for the arts instruction that many schools have cut, reports the latest in a set of issue briefs released by the Afterschool Alliance.

"Arts Enrichment in Afterschool," is one of four briefs, supported with funding from the MetLife Foundation, targeting issues that impact middle school students and how after-school programs may address them.

According to the most recent brief, due to limited financial resources and pressure to meet testing standards, schools have been prone to cut arts instruction. Drama and dance classes, in particular, have been scaled back, the brief reports, with schools with high percentages of minority and low income students reducing these classes more than others.

The brief profiles a few after-school programs for middle school youths that have made arts instruction a priority, encouraged by some research that shows arts instruction, can improve students' academic and cognitive skills, as well as social outcomes, like attendance and behavior.

Family Dynamics Beacon Center Afterschool Program: The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based initiative that uses New York City artists in residence to provide art workshops for students.

Latino Arts Strings & Mariachi Juvenile Program: The after-school program is focused on training Latino students to participate in high school orchestras, based in Milwaukee.

Wooden Floor: The Santa Ana, Calif., program that teaches dance, primarily for low-income, minority students.

Sitar Arts Center: The center, based in Washington, serves 800 young people each year, 80 percent of whom are low income.

Carolina Studios Music Technology: The program for at-risk, urban youth in Charleston, S.C., integrates music, technology, language arts, and media.

"Arts education is competing for schools' time and resources, but is often coming out second best," the brief says. "At a time when arts education is losing the battle for classroom time in schools, after-school programs can offer much-needed support and provide students with an additional outlet to participate in the arts."

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