As I’ve mentioned many times, the Cultural Access Fund proposal has many great things to recommend it, now more than ever. But one of the aspects of the legislation that has gotten a lot of excitement is the “public school cultural access program,” which would provide free transportation for public school students to attend and participate in cultural activities (as well as actually coordinate the planning, curriculum development and related logistics of field trips.)
It may seem small, but it’s a big concern to both school districts and cultural organizations. School districts have less and less money for everything – particularly cultural education – and buses can get expensive. Ironically, cutting cultural education in the classroom and field trips is a double whammy; kids don’t learn it in class and they don’t get taken out of class to get inspired and educated at the cultural institutions themselves. In addition, for some children, field trips are the only time they might have the opportunity to see cultural institutions in person, because of socio-economic limitations at home.
Running the numbers (based on a few estimates), less than $6 million can fund buses for 758,581 student trips per year. That sounds like a lot of cultural access for not too much money. And, oh yeah…cultural participation in your youth is a huge predictor of cultural participation as an adult, so this is literally growing the next generation of audiences.