As a professional and a mother, I have been delighted and grateful to watch my young daughter's increasing love for and involvement in the arts.
Lilly is lucky to be growing up in Lexington. Her chance to become involved in and exposed to the arts at such an early age is a direct result of the operating and grants support that LexArts spreads throughout our community by way of its Fund for the Arts.
As the current year's Fund for the Arts campaign draws to a close today, it is easy to think of other things — vacations, holidays, kids at camp and even the many celebrations and fundraisers that dot the Bluegrass at this time of year.
But let's not forget the important role LexArts and its Fund for the Arts play in supporting key cultural institutions that not only give Lexington its character but also help nurture and encourage the success of our children.
Studies have shown the dramatic impact a vibrant and thriving arts scene has on our quality of life and the stimulus the arts give to our economy each year. But that tells just a part of the story.
Central Kentucky Youth Orchestras' exciting new project, North Limestone MusicWorks, will bring free orchestral training, in an El Sistema-based environment, to children of North Lexington.
Other institutions such as the Living Arts and Science Center, Lexington Children's Theatre and the Lexington Philharmonic reach tens of thousands of our children each year, exposing them to painting, music, drama and other arts that supplement, or even replace, programs in our schools that have seen drastic cuts in funding.
Why is exposure to the arts and the creative process so important? What is not widely appreciated about arts education is that it isn't just about having a well-rounded education — it is crucial to developing the skills needed to flourish in the 21st century.
Current studies show that arts education helps prepare students for the globally competitive work force by developing the ability to innovate, communicate and collaborate.
Shirley Brice Heath at Stanford University discovered that young people who participate in the arts for at least three hours on three days each week through at least one full year are:
■ Four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement.
■ Four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair.
■ Three times more likely to win an award for school attendance.
■ Four times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem.
So, as a mother of a curious and energetic little girl who loves painting, drawing, sculpture, clay, singing, guitar, piano and ponies, this is more than just another scheduled activity. This is a crucial part of her education and exposure to the world — one that depends on the Fund for the Arts for its continued existence.
If you have children, or grandchildren or nieces or nephews in Lexington, do them an enormous favor now: Give generously to LexArts' Fund for the Arts and help ensure your little loved ones are as prepared as they can be to take on and make the most of their opportunities in the decades ahead.
Make donations to Fund for the Arts at www.lexarts.org/invest/arts-campaign/. Mail checks, which must postmarked today, to LexArts, 161 North Mill Street, Lexington, KY, 40507.