USU ArtsBridge is an affiliate of ArtsBridge America, a unique research-based school/university partnership in arts education. ArtsBridge America is a network of university schools of art and education dedicated to providing high-quality arts instruction to K-12 schoolchildren and community organizations. There are currently ArtsBridge programs at 24 universities in 13 states and Northern Ireland. Utah State University’s ArtsBridge program began in fall 2007. Other ArtsBridge campuses in Utah include University of Utah, Southern Utah University, and Brigham Young University.
USU ArtsBridge provides scholarships to qualified arts and arts education students to provide instruction and implement projects in visual arts, theatre, music, music therapy, dance, landscape architecture, interior design, creative writing, and the digital arts. The ArtsBridge scholar works collaboratively with the classroom teacher and community leaders to create unique projects in the arts, which are linked to state standards as well as individual classroom and community needs. For elementary teachers without specialization in the arts, this support can awaken teachers’ appreciation for the value of arts in education. And for arts specialists, these passionate young artists can supplement and expand existing arts instruction.
ArtsBridge promotes locally-initiated arts education; civic engagement through the arts; consistent and sequential, hands-on instruction in the arts during the school day; exemplary models of arts teaching, particularly in integrating arts across the curriculum; and professional support for public school teachers. Programs are continually evaluated, and administrative costs are closely controlled.
ArtsBridge benefits all of its partners: local K-12 schoolchildren and teachers, university students and faculty, and community organizations. Initial evaluations indicate that schoolchildren develop increased interest and abilities in the arts as well as growth in verbal and language abilities, concentration, classroom participation, and interest in attending college. Participating teachers express increased appreciation for and confidence in using the arts in their curriculum. And ArtsBridge scholars report overwhelming interest in pursuing careers in teaching and involvement in community service.
The cognitive, social, and personal benefits from arts instruction are not unique to ArtsBridge. What makes the program unique is the involvement of research faculty in the arts and education through the Center for Learning through the Arts, at the University California Irvine's Department of Education. The national network of ArtsBridge America programs brings the powerful arts resources of some of the nation’s largest public universities to bear on improved learning in K-12. ArtsBridge classrooms enable the study of learning in and through the arts, effective curricular strategies for improved learning in our schools, and ways in which arts learning contributes to the achievement and success of our children. ArtsBridge responds to community needs and has been equally successful outside of the classroom, in hospitals, senior centers and other community-based environments.