NASAA Notes: August 2021

August 3, 2021

South Carolina: Learning Initiative Partnership

Storytelling and theatre artists lead a summer arts camp for 1st- through 5th-grade students in rural Williston, South Carolina, thanks to a partnership with the South Carolina Arts Commission. Photo courtesy of South Carolina Arts Commission

COVID-19 continues to have an adverse impact on students, families, educators, and school communities across the nation. Recent studies suggest that suspension of face-to-face instruction in schools during the pandemic led to learning loss, with the effects on students of color and kids from low income families being especially pronounced. Educators and health experts also are concerned about the impact of school closures on the well-being and mental health of young people. These conditions underscore the timely importance of including arts in learning in summer enrichment and comprehensive after-school programs to bolster student engagement and success.

In a landmark investment to address the negative effects of the pandemic on students, the South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) recently invested $20 million in a new arts education partnership with the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC). This partnership—rooted in innovation and evidence based practices—will support proven, arts based learning initiatives in South Carolina’s public schools. The funding is derived from the $2.1 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP ESSER) that SCDE is set to receive. These ESSER funds will be allocated to local education agencies to support instruction and also will be used for state level activities to address learning loss, summer enrichment programs and comprehensive after-school programs.

SCAC will focus the arts funds on helping schools and teachers fill learning-loss gaps in the arts, using arts integration strategies to remediate learning in core subject areas, and providing summer and after-school opportunities that leverage the arts. SCAC also will address art in early childhood and vocational certification credentials for high school students. All programs will be designed to ensure equitable access to learning.

To implement its plan over the course of the next three years, the Arts Commission will work with grantees, statewide partners in arts education and other arts providers. For example, to further the classroom based goals, SCAC will build on its existing partnership with the Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project that currently serves about 44,000 students in 74 schools and has been cooperatively led for more than 30 years by SCAC, SCDE and Winthrop University. The ARP ESSER funding will help to expand the ABC program to:

  • increase access to quality arts education (targeting underserved communities);
  • develop arts-rich learning environments;
  • build, restore, expand and support infrastructure for arts learning at the district level; and
  • research and develop new and innovative instructional practices.

Additionally, SCAC will expand its existing partnerships with the South Carolina Governor’s School for Arts & Humanities and Engaging Creative Minds, and will offer grants and programming opportunities for arts education providers across the state. To learn more about the initiative, contact South Carolina Arts Commission Communications Director Jason Rapp.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

The Research Digest

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA




To receive information regarding updates to our newslettter. Please fill out the form below.