Gift to Expand Access to Creative Learning for Austin Students
In the spirit of the holiday season, the Gibson Foundation today presented 100 electric guitars to the City of Austin to support the development of arts-rich schools and expand creative learning opportunities for Austin school students.
Mayor Lee Leffingwell presented the guitars to mindPOP President Brent Hasty. MindPOP, a cultural arts education organization, is the lead convener of the Any Given Child partnership that includes the Austin Independent School District and the City of Austin.
“We applaud the generosity of the Gibson Foundation, and we are honored to present these guitars to mindPOP to be used by our community arts partners and school teachers for the benefit of our students,” said Mayor Leffingwell.
Ray Benson, Grammy Award-winning guitarist, producer and philanthropist and founder of the renowned Western swing band Asleep at the Wheel, was also present Monday. “This donation will make a big difference in a lot of children's lives, and a lot of music,” said Benson.
This gift is in recognition of the prestigious Any Given Child initiative in Austin, earned from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts which created this unprecedented partnership under the leadership and guidance of mindPOP.
“MindPOP is thrilled to be the recipient of this generous gift as the central convener of this partnership that represents more than 50 community arts organizations providing creative learning opportunities to Austin youth,” said Hasty. “These guitars will not only promote the creative development of our students, it will develop the habits of mind that support academic skills that will be useful throughout the lives of these young people. We are very grateful for this gift and the benefits for our students.”
Almost 1,400 students in the Austin school district participate in guitar programs at 10 high schools and 11 middle schools throughout the city. Guitar is among the fastest-growing musical instrument choices in AISD as more students are drawn to the string instrument’s strong cultural heritage in genres such as jazz, mariachi and classical music.
“The Any Given Child creative learning initiative highlights cultural heritage as an essential component of an arts-rich education,” Greg Goodman, director of AISD’s fine arts programs, said. “As students develop the art of playing guitar, they also have the opportunity to tap into the instrument’s rich, cultural heritage to express themselves.”
Gibson’s generous gift of electric guitars will strengthen the district’s fine arts programs, especially for jazz and blues performers.
Strengthening arts education and creative learning for all students is vitally important to maintaining Austin’s strong creative community and economy. The creative sector generates more than $4.35 billion in economic activity, more than $71 million in city tax revenues and almost 49,000 jobs.
Austin’s creative sector employment has risen by about 25 percent during the past 5 years, a pace more rapid that the 10 percent growth of the local economy as a whole, according to a City of Austin report released earlier this year.
The Any Given Child initiative provides a coordinated plan to ensure all young people benefit from the academic and creative experiences that may lead to one of the 49,000 permanent jobs in the creative sector in Austin.