Arts no longer an afterthought, thanks to Chance


Arts no longer an afterthought, thanks to Chance

By Lauren Kostiuk

After donating $1 million to Chicago Public Schools in early March, Chance the Rapper announced March 31 his new “Chance Arts and Literature Fund.”

The philanthropic fund, in collaboration with Children’s First Fund, will work to improve CPS’ arts programs and spotlight their importance in young students’ lives. The Ingenuity Fund— a grant making partnership between Ingenuity and CPS’ Department of Arts Education—and Chance’s nonprofit Social Works will help identify schools needing the most support.

The arts have proven to be a vital part of young adult education, yet every time the CPS budget comes on the agenda, arts are almost always the first thing to be cut. This especially affects public schools in low-income areas that unlike private and magnet schools, aren’t able to receive enough outside funding or donations to financially support the arts. 

According to Ingenuity’s 2015–2016 report, CPS improved its art programs since implementing its Arts Education Plan in 2012, but only 60 percent of the schools were certified as strong or excelling in the arts—mostly on the North Side. 

For many adolescents, Chicago’s art scene provides a sense of belonging.  The arts teach students responsibility, collaboration, discipline, patience, character and leadership. It enables kids to solve problems within their communities.

Supporting arts education may be a small fix to a larger problem, but if it means influencing young and vital lives, it shouldn’t be pushed aside.

Last December, Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that would have provided $215 million in funding for CPS, as reported Dec. 12, 2016, by The Chronicle. The lack of funding led to extensive layoffs and now the CPS is considering cutting the school year short by 13 days—which will be detrimental to many families and communities.

During his March 31 press conference, Chance said the “arts are essential,” and he is right. Thanks to Chance, someone is finally filling in where Chicago’s youth have been let down.

Though he hasn’t inspired Rauner to do much, Chance’s work hasn’t been in vain. His efforts have inspired many organizations, including the Chicago Bulls and celebrities like local comedian Hannibal Burress to donate. Social Works agreed to donate $10,000 to specific schools for every $100,000 raised. Even a Wicker Park bakery made cookies resembling Chance’s infamous hat in order to raise money. So far, the campaign has raised more than $2.2 million in less than a month, according to a March 31 Chicago Tribune article.

It’s time to stop pointing fingers because no one has the perfect answer, but it needs to be recognized that children’s education is in jeopardy simply because a group of adults can’t put their political differences aside. 

Chance said it best when he said, “Take our kids off the table.” It is embarrassing that someone else has to do the state politicians’ jobs so children can receive a fulfilling education.