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Documenting the Importance of Arts Education

Posted on: Sep 12, 2011

The following films document the power of arts in young people’s lives. Plan an event around a screening of one of these films as a way to generate community dialogue about the importance of arts education. Invite community leaders, school leaders, artists, students, teachers, and parents to participate. Click the film image to view the trailer.

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TRUST begins in a small theater as a group of teenage actors receive a standing ovation, then takes us back to the beginning, when Marlin, an 18-year-old Hondureña tells a traumatic story about her life to the company. Amazing things unfold as the young members of Chicago’s Albany Park Theater Project transform the story into a daring, original play. TRUST is about creativity and the unexpected resources inside people you might discount because they are poor, young or of color. Learn more about screenings of the film and visit the TRUST website.




THUNDER SOUL tells the true story of Conrad O Johnson and the legendary Kashmere Stage Band. It was afros and pleated shirts; James Brown and Bootsy Collins. It was the ’70s, and an inner-city Houston high school was about to make history. Charismatic band leader, Conrad “Prof” Johnson would turn the school’s mediocre jazz band into a legendary funk powerhouse. Find out about screenings of the film and learn more about the band.






DUDAMEL: Let the Children Play




DUDAMEL: Let the Children Play is a glimpse into the world of orchestras, conducting, and the importance of music as a hopeful path to face the educational crisis worldwide. Gustavo Dudamel, the amazingly gifted LA Philharmonic conductor inspired by the Venezuelan musical and educational program "El Sistema," which immerses children in the world of music, art, teamwork, discipline, creativity, and high values, leads this journey through the stories of some of the young people who are experiencing the joy of music in the most diverse and contrasting corners of the world. Find out about screenings of the film and learn more about El Sistema.







OLD SCHOOL NEW SCHOOL is a study on the nature of creativity and how young artists can achieve their full creative potential.  The movie explores the mystery of creativity with a cast of artistic heavyweights including celebrated actor Brian Cox, innovative jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, and six-time Oscar® nominee William Fraker. Their conversations explore three central themes: finding one’s voice, risk, and the definition of success in the arts.  Old School New School is produced by Diane Leigh Davison and Steven Fischer (Americans for the Arts member and two-time Emmy Award® nominee). They are actively seeking venues nationwide for screenings and panel discussions on the nature of creativity. Visit the Old School New School blog to join the conversation. Courtesy of Blue Dog Productions, Inc.





SHAKESPEARE HIGH focuses on teens that face poverty, gangs, drugs, and a lack of role models at home. But in their high school drama programs, a diverse group of SoCal teens finds a chance to create a better life. Following several students as they prepare for and compete in the 90th Drama Teachers Association of Southern California Shakespeare Festival, this uplifting documentary voices the dramatic personal stories of a cross-section of youth from the Los Angeles area who find redemption, camaraderie, and a creative outlet on the stage and in the classroom. Visit the Shakespeare High website to learn more.