Arts education is getting some emphasis from the state as Gov. Nathan Deal announced an Arts Learning Task Force including Gainesville arts leader Gladys Wyant.
The goal of the task force, announced Wednesday, is to increase innovation in art education across Georgia.
Sasha Dlugolenski, spokeswoman for the governor, said the state is in position to fund education better. For 2015’s fiscal year, the governor included more than a half-billion dollars in new funding for education.
With funding in place, “the Georgia Council for the Arts at the Georgia Department of Economic Development brought this recommendation to the governor and will be the administrative entity for the task force,” she said.
Wyant, GCA member and executive director of The Arts Council in Gainesville, is one of the 16 members on the task force.
“Since he’s been governor, he’s shown more interest in the arts — although the funding for the arts hasn’t always been there because of the economy,” Wyant said. “The Georgia Council for the Arts budget has been cut by 90 percent over a four-year period.”
The latest increase in funding has made Wyant hopeful.
“I’m looking forward to working with the group and coming up with some concrete suggestions to incorporate more arts in our educational programs,” she said.
The programs the task force implements should “maximize student achievement, academic achievement, workforce readiness and lifelong learning,” Dlugolenski, said.
Wyant sad she believes the program will do just that for Georgia’s students, especially when it comes to workforce readiness.
“There’s been a number of studies conducted that (have) proven that students who have a healthy infusion of the arts in their educational programs are more creative thinkers. They’re better problem solvers, and businesses are realizing this,” she said. “They look at their resumes to see what kind of background they have in the arts because they feel like they will have a better worker.”
Dlugolenski said Georgia’s task force will start by reviewing the existing models of arts education initiatives from other states.
“There are some people who are doing great things in the arts,” Wyant said. “I would hope that we would be able to visit some of these programs and find out what’s working and bring those best practices to our communities throughout the state."