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For children, the arts are essential, not extra

By JANINE CAFFREY
Published April 27, 2007


I became involved with the Longleaf Fine Arts Show as co-chair to help our community incorporate the arts into our lives, especially on an educational level. This event is about more than just a showcase of fine art; it's about the children of our community and their future success.

Studies have shown that children exposed to the arts are far more likely to excel academically than those who are not. After 20 years as an educator, I can attest to the validity of that research.

As the current school head and founder of the Renaissance Academy, a private school for the arts in Pasco County, I see firsthand the positive impact the arts have on childhood development.

Through exposure to the arts, children develop necessary life skills, enrich their value systems, enhance their developmental growth and ultimately develop the drive necessary for success that so many young people lack today. In my book, Drive: Nine Ways to Motivate Your Child to Achieve, I explore the connection between the arts and success. For example, children and teens who are introduced to the arts develop a sense of perception, commitment and self confidence - nonexistent qualities prior to being exposed to the arts.

At the Renaissance Academy, all of our students participate in at least one to two hours of art instruction each day.

When funding for public school art programs is cut, it is community events like the Longleaf Fine Arts Show that provide children with an opportunity to explore visual and performing arts that they otherwise might not experience.

It is crucial that our community come together this weekend to support not only the art show, but also the arts in our schools and the futures of the children in our community. Funds raised from the Longleaf Fine Arts Show will benefit Art For Kids in Pasco County, a program that last year brought muralist Christopher Still, known for his historical scenes and landscapes, to Longleaf Elementary for an integrated history and art lesson.

The second annual Longleaf Fine Arts on the Village Green is a juried show of fine artists and fine craftsmen, both local and national. Featured art pieces will span more than 10 mediums, including 2-D and 3-D mixed media, sculpture, photography, glass, jewelry and digital works.

The Longleaf Fine Arts Show is sponsored by Fine Arts of the Suncoast Inc., a Florida nonprofit corporation whose mission is to develop a community culture that embraces the arts. The event is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Longleaf, 1 mile east of Little Road and 3 miles west of Gunn Highway on State Road 54.

For more information about the Longleaf Fine Arts Show, visit www.longleaffineartshow.com.

Dr. Janine Caffrey is the head of school for Renaissance Academy.