UpstArt is the Lincoln Arts Council’s flagship education program, bringing the arts into schools, including the Pathfinder Program in the Lancaster County Youth Services Center. In partnership with local art, music, theater and dance artist-educators/organizations, the LAC personalizes school residencies to enhance learning in general education classrooms as well as in art and music specialists’ classrooms.
UpstArt is built around pairing classroom teachers with artists and musicians to design a residency. Where possible, the teaching artist residencies follow a three-year trajectory, following the same students across grades, building on what they learn. UpstArt brings enriching art opportunities to more than 2,500 Lincoln children to empower a diverse group of youth to channel their creativity, build their confidence and connect with others.
Research has proven the intellectual benefit of an arts education, but even more important is the deeply genuine experience that comes from an invitation to create. The LAC launched upStart in 2010 with the goal of connecting artist-educators with under-resourced students of all ages. Since then, upstArt’s partnerships with local schools and organizations have grown, including year-long programming, activities that focus on social-emotional learning, and experiences that enhance personal growth and self-esteem.
UpstArt is about more than just providing access to arts education. It bridges the gap for students with limited resources and opportunities. Students who face social and academic hurdles are provided with affirmation, becoming more likely to overcome challenges. The LAC puts a focus on Title I schools – schools in which at least 40 percent of students must enroll in the free and reduced lunch program. Students are given the opportunity for a more equitable life experience.
The LAC’s close relationship with Lincoln Public Schools ensures that it compliments the work of classroom teachers who sign up for the program. The LAC works collaboratively with LPS teachers and the teaching artists to build a program that meets educational goals and LPS's curriculum standards.
The College Board’s National Task Force on the Arts in Education recommends that “greater access to arts education can serve as an effective tool in closing the achievement gap, increasing the number of underserved students that achieve at the highest levels in education.” This is what inspires the upstArt mission.