Mission: Founded in 1999 by legendary singer tony bennett and his wife, susan benedetto, the mission of exploring the arts (eta) is to transform the lives of young people through arts education, working collaboratively with public high schools to help them build quality, in-school arts programs and to increase out-of-school arts opportunities for their students. Eta currently serves 17 partner schools in new york city and los angeles, impacting more than 11,000 students. Eta's programs and approach address the lack of sufficient funding for the arts in public high schools and the lack of rigorous arts programs and curricula. Eta collaborates with partner school leadership to develop a 4-year plan that creates and builds high-quality, sustainable arts programming. Eta's tony bennett apprenticeship program helps young people gain access to diverse cultural institutions as an effective way to develop important professional skills and deepen their understanding of careers in the arts.
Programs: To address the lack of high-quality arts programs and opportunities in public high schools in nyc and la, eta makes a 4 year commitment to each partner school to help them build sequential, sustainable arts instruction. Programs administered at each partner school include: (1) the 4-year plan where eta collaborates with the principal at each of its partner schools to develop a 4-year plan for each school's arts program, which eta then helps fund with annual grant. Each plan is unique, designed to support a principal-led vision, centered on clearly articulated goals. Eta program staff work as consultants to principals, helping them design and implement a strategic, step-by-step, sustainable plan, with built-in assessment, and a practical budget. Funds can be used to pay for the following elements in a plan: professional development and training for teachers; planning time for curriculum development; in-school artist residencies; class field trips; the purchase of arts supplies and equipment. The projected impact for this program is twofold: (a) to provide more rigorous, standards-based arts training and increased engagement with cultural institutions to traditionally under-served students who have lacked access to such opportunities; and (b) to empower public high school principals to develop and maintain quality arts programs in the face of public budget cuts and mandated curriculum and testing requirements. (2) eta's tony bennett apprenticeship program was created to help demystify the professional world for students who aspire to work in the arts and connect them with mentors in their field of interest. While young people can often identify clear steps toward a career in law, medicine, or education, for example, they are often unsure of how to pursue a career in the arts and struggle with fear and uncertainty in the face of their dreams. The program was also designed to provide low-income students, many of whom will be the first in their families to complete high school and attend college, with an expanded network of trusted, college-educated adults. (3)exploring the arts issues college scholarships for tuition relief for students' first year of college at a 4-year institution. Students apply for the scholarship and awards are based on merit and need. Exploring the arts issues scholarships for tuition relief for summer arts study for rising 11th and 12th graders at its partner schools. (4)in addition to the 3 main programs above, eta provides grants to support arts-related needs for classroom teachers at eta partner schools. The grants are competitive and awarded up to $2,500 each.