An Inside Perspective from CAP’s President & CEO

CAP Announces Launch of LEAD artlook® map

On February 23, the Cathedral Arts Project and Any Given Child Jacksonville announced the launch of the Landscape of Education in the Arts in Duval (LEAD) artlook® map. This launch is part of a collective national effort to affect systemic change for arts education through partnerships with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Ingenuity, the Chicago-based arts advocacy organization that created the artlook® platform. 

The LEAD artlook® map provides a real-time snapshot of arts resources and services on a school-by-school basis in Duval County, using data from schools, funding resources and cultural service providers, such as local museums and arts organizations. This cutting-edge tool allows community stakeholders to identify funding and partnership opportunities that will lead to greater support and resources for arts education in Duval County schools.

A screenshot of search results from the LEAD artlook® map

“For nearly three decades, CAP has worked to make sure every child has access to an arts-rich education with tremendous progress,” said The Rev. Kimberly L. Hyatt, CAP President and CEO. “Now, with the launch of the LEAD artlook® map, it will be easier than ever for our community — rich in quality arts learning resources — to come together on behalf of our children.” 

The LEAD artlook® map provides a real-time snapshot of arts resources and services on a school-by-school basis in Duval County.

Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Department of Education and the PNC Foundation, AGC Jacksonville is working to assess the state of the arts and advocate for increased equity and access to high quality arts education for all students enrolled in Duval County Public Schools — goals that took on even more significance as a result of the pandemic. 

“The arts in Jacksonville have been an important part of the culture and growth of our city,” said Brian Bucher, PNC regional president for Port Cities. “We’re pleased to know that through PNC’s support, the LEAD artlook® map will provide essential information to parents, school and community leaders to keep track of all the wonderful in-person and virtual arts programming available for families in Duval County schools, which inevitably will lead to greater equity in funding and programming.” 

A picture of a virtual music class from the Cathedral Arts Project

AGC Jacksonville initiated a collaboration between Ingenuity, the Kennedy Center and the NEA to launch the artlook® Project, a three-year initiative to gather comprehensive data to improve equitable access to arts education. Jacksonville is one of eight cities nationally, and the only city in Florida, to participate in the artlook® Project. Other communities selected for the initiative include Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; New Orleans, LA; Portland, OR; Sacramento, CA; and Southwestern PA. 

“The work of AGC is focused on changing systems to ensure equity and diversity in arts education for every young person,” said Allison Galloway-Gonzalez, Chief Program Officer of CAP and Executive Director of AGC Jacksonville. “This tool provides a new perspective on how the arts add up in our education system.” 

LEAD began in 2019 with surveys to all Duval County Public Schools to collect information about arts programming and resources. A separate survey was created for local arts and culture organizations to gather information about their arts education offerings. The map will be updated annually; data from the 2020-2021 school year will be active on the map by fall 2021.  

The LEAD artlook® map will provide essential information to parents, school and community leaders to keep track of all the wonderful in-person and virtual arts programming available for families in Duval County schools.”
-Brian Bucher, PNC Regional President for Port Cities

LEAD is the first artlook® map to launch outside of Ingenuity’s original Chicago map and provides a template for other school districts seeking to use data to strengthen teaching, learning, whole-child education and strategies to address equity gaps. Locally, Assessment Technologies Group and the University of North Florida are providing data analysis support to translate the map into an advocacy plan. 
“Ingenuity’s goal from day one has been to help ensure that every student, in every grade, in every public school has access to quality arts instruction,” said Paul Sznewajs, Executive Director of Ingenuity. “This partnership with AGC Jacksonville and the Kennedy Center is equipping the arts educators, administrators and community organizations of Duval County with the tools to bring transformative arts learning opportunities to all 130,000+ DCPS students.” 

A picture of a child's hand holding a green paintbrush, painting a colorful sun.
Image by Ingrid Damiani

“Through this investment in the mapping program, Jacksonville is serving as an example for other communities around the country,” stated Jeanette McCune, Director of School and Community Programs at the Kennedy Center. “The Kennedy Center is honored to have Jacksonville as one of the Any Given Child collective communities selected to participate in the artlook® map through our partnership with Ingenuity.”  

Arts education plays a critical role in the development of children, and we are fortunate that multiple community partners have come together to provide this new resource that will lead to greater access and equity.”
-Dr. Diana Greene, Superintendent, Duval County Public Schools

In recent years, DCPS has expanded its arts education opportunities for students. Recent advancements include: 

  • – The creation of a new arts magnet middle school, Fort Caroline Middle School of the Visual and Performing Arts 
  • – New digital arts, digital photography and cinematic film programs in multiple secondary schools 
  • – Expanded performing arts programs, including show choir, theatre, band and choral programs 
  • – The addition of more than 80 fine arts teaching positions since 2013 
  • – Active representation for arts education in all pandemic planning efforts to keep programs and positions intact and available as safely as possible 

“We are so excited to engage with the LEAD artlook® map as it will be an invaluable tool in helping us enhance arts education in our schools, and expand how we serve Team Duval students, teachers and parents,” said Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene. “Arts education plays a critical role in the development of children, and we are fortunate that multiple community partners have come together to provide this new resource that will lead to greater access and equity. This will provide a comprehensive way for parents to navigate arts education opportunities in schools and the community. It also gives educators the ability to engage with art providers and find pathways of bringing arts resources into the classroom.”       

Rising to the Challenge: 2020 Year in Review

January 27, 2021
Kimberly L. Hyatt, President & CEO

There’s no denying 2020 was a difficult year. And while the Cathedral Arts Project was certainly not immune to uncertainty and challenges, we faced them with our mission at the heart of every decision and our incredible community of supporters by our side.

The arts provide ways for children to understand and cope with the ever-changing world around us. Right now, children need tools to express their thoughts and feelings, build resilience and connect with one another.

During 2020, supporters made it possible for CAP to:

Transition 21 of its 33 arts education programs to virtual learning at the onset of the pandemic.

Create and distribute 1,000 at-home art kits to children and families across Duval County, with the help of local businesses, organizations and volunteers.

Offer a summer intensive program for members of the CAP String Orchestra, who developed their music-making skills while collaborating with other young musicians.

Hire two new full-time teaching artist fellows in art therapy and dance.

Design and implement a full year of free virtual courses in art as therapy, dance, music, theatre and visual arts, offered to any child at any school in Northeast Florida and beyond.

Provide quality arts education to 1,294 children.

Thank you to all who played an essential role to help CAP continue to provide quality arts education when it was most needed. CAP remains inspired and committed to reaching more children in 2021!

The Arts Prevent Summer Learning Loss

April 2, 2018
Kimberly L. Hyatt, President & CEO

Between undergrad and graduate studies, I took six years off to work. I’ve never forgotten going back to grad school and realizing I had to catch up with my younger classmates who had just graduated from college. I had to refresh my memory and also learn how to study again.

Something similar happens to kids during the summer. The summer slide, as it is called, refers to the phenomenon of students starting a new school year behind where they were when they finished the previous school year. This is especially evident among lower-income children who are more likely to spend their summer vacation in unstructured activities than their more affluent peers who get to take advantage of a growing number of educational resources and experiences.

This is nothing new. In fact, studies have measured summer learning loss for over a century. According to the National Summer Learning Association, most lower-income children lose two months of math skills during summer vacation and up to three months of reading skills. When school resumes in the fall, nine out of 10 teachers must spend three whole weeks re-teaching material students learned the previous year.

These learning losses have a cumulative impact. By the time they reach fifth grade, lower-income students are two to three years behind their higher-income peers. When they enter high school, over half of the achievement gap can be attributed to summer learning loss during their elementary school years.
So how can we prevent the dreaded summer slide? A solution is readily available – providing structured learning through so-called summer camps and other summer learning programs.

Just as the arts are an essential part of a child’s K-12 schooling, so are arts learning opportunities essential for the summer break. Arts learning matters every single day. It develops important skills like creative thinking, perseverance and self-discipline that help students succeed.

And among many other lessons, arts education helps children learn how to learn. Through studying the arts, children develop the attitudes and skills that can make learning anything fun and, therefore, successful.

When children can see that dedication to learning and sustained attention to a goal helps them learn to play an instrument or perfect dance moves or act in character or create a piece of art, they come to realize they can approach their school work the same way.

Students experience in very real ways the truth that practice is necessary and that it pays off if they work hard enough. They learn that they can develop their abilities and get better at things they never thought they could do. This sense of self-efficacy, knowing that they can accomplish difficult things if they put their mind to it, will carry a child through school and through life. They develop the growth mindset that will set them up for success in school, on the job and in life.

Any subject or problem is more fun – and thereby more engaging – when you see yourself making progress and capable of continued progress. Short term, high-quality arts camps and programs are an excellent way for children to discover how to learn and have fun doing it. Not just in the summer, but all year long.

Camp Encore, presented by the Cathedral Arts Project, offers 6- to 11-year-olds the opportunity to discover new passions and grow their creativity. Campers of all experience levels will enjoy one-of-a-kind instruction in dance, music, theatre, and the visual arts, led by qualified teaching artists. CLICK HERE for more information or email


Arts Education: A Lesson in Respect

October 2, 2017
Kimberly L. Hyatt, President & CEO

The average life span of great civilizations is 215 years.[i] A first-rate arts education is one of the best means left to save our American experiment, now 241 years old. I’ve come to this conclusion over 15 years working with the Cathedral Arts Project, an organization whose mission is to enrich our quality of life through unleashing the creative spirit of young people.

When I first took this role, I didn’t give much weight to how the arts bolster our ability to see the world from other perspectives. Back then, the ways arts education improved academic achievement was top of mind. I assumed the increasing diversity of our society would automatically generate broader understanding and mutual respect. I was wrong.

Today, my perspective has changed. I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of the arts for students, families and our community. Students who participate regularly in the arts show marked improvement in class participation, task completion, peer communication, and conflict management – but they also gain the insights, empathy and language needed to understand each other and, just as important, to understand themselves. As we celebrate National Arts & Humanities Month, it is my hope that the unique potential of arts education will help us achieve our country’s promise of E pluribus unum – out of many, one.

Seventy eight percent of Americans believe disrespect and political dysfunction prevent our nation from moving forward.[ii] A meta-analysis of 72 studies of 14,000 American college students between 1979 and 2009 revealed a drop of 40% in empathy scores.[iii] Since most of the drop occurred after 2000, the decline is undoubtedly steeper today.

It’s hard not to see a possible correlation between these findings and decreased access to arts education over the past several decades. Arts education has the potential, like nothing else, to mold both brains and hearts and open us to meaningful encounters where we look to not only our own interests, but also the interests of others.

Students in CAP’s ARTS Ignite! afterschool program begin each class by reciting a creed that involves five promises, the first of which is to “respect others and their ideas as I respect myself.” For our democracy to flourish, we must revive our ability to reason together and not merely tolerate, but respect one another – no matter what. As John Dewey put it, “Imagination is the chief instrument of the good.” How we treat another person and their ideas, he noted, is dependent upon our power to put ourselves “imaginatively” in another’s place.[iv]

In contrast, what lesson are we teaching our children when they see us unfriend someone on Facebook simply because we disagree with a post? That their perspective has no value? That they do not deserve our friendship, much less our respect?

While we can homogenize the opinions that show up on our social media feeds, living together peaceably and productively in the real world is only going to get more challenging. If Census Bureau estimates hold, in just 27 years, one-time minority groups will comprise the majority of Americans.

Arts education demands that we study what life looks like, sounds like, and feels like for others. It provides a structure to come together while holding different perspectives. In theatre, we walk in another person’s shoes. In visual arts, we study familiar images from unfamiliar perspectives. We learn to pause and look deeper rather than defaulting to lazy, habitual ways of seeing.

There is always another perspective, another interpretation, another form. Students learn not only through their own cognition and creative process, but also through their peers.

Arts education promotes ways of thinking that support curiosity and openness. As we grow older and become set in our ways, this shift can often feel like too much. But if we encourage children to think this way – before rigid, binary ways of seeing the world in black and white take hold – it’s a mindset that will stay with them the rest of their lives.

Furthermore, through arts education, we learn the important life skill of critique. Can you imagine what it would be like if a critical mass of us knew how to give and receive respectful, constructive feedback? It would surely be a significant step forward in our life together where basic human decency is often hard to spot.

While a healthy democracy requires strong convictions and healthy debate, it requires much more. Arts education is the key. Aristotle said we need art because we have not lived enough. The arts can reposition us in others’ worlds, or even our own, long enough to glimpse something we hadn’t noticed before. And that just might be our salvation – as individuals and as a civilization.

[i] Samuel Arbesman, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

[ii] National Institute for Civil Discourse, The University of Arizona, 2017.

[iii] Changes in Dispositional Empathy in American College Students Over Time: A Meta-Analysis,” Sara Konrath, University of Michigan, 2010.

[iv] John Dewey, Art as Experience, p. 362

The Arts Influence Mental Health

July 9, 2018
Kimberly L. Hyatt, President & CEO

Everyone I’ve ever known who is raising a child longs for three things above all – for their child to be healthy, safe and happy.

But no matter how well families provide for the children entrusted to their care, there are no guarantees. Being a kid has never been easy, but to speak of adolescent drama today means something completely different than it did not that long ago. No child is exempt from the fear of school shootings, the anxiety of testing or the competitive comparisons of social media. And it’s taking an increasing toll on our community’s youth.

According to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of Duval County students administered by the CDC:
• More than 1 in 3 high school students experienced depression, a 24 percent increase since 2013.
• 1 in 4 middle school students seriously considered suicide, 1 in 5 made a plan and 1 in 8 attempted to die by suicide, a 21 percent increase since 2013.
• 1 in 5 high school students seriously considered suicide, made a plan and attempted to die by suicide.

It’s not only depression, of course. The CDC reports 1 in 5 American children ages 3 through 17 have a diagnosable mental, emotional or behavioral disorder. However, 80 percent of these children are not diagnosed and therefore don’t receive the help they need, even if they had access.

Now more than ever, it’s important that kids be equipped to utilize the visual and performing arts as a means of self-expression, perseverance and finding purpose. Young people often feel safer expressing traumatic experiences and uncomfortable feelings through the arts than through traditional therapies.

When kids get to experience the arts, it changes their experience of life.

When kids see that they can create something – whether it is a monologue, movement with their body, a piece of art or a musical performance – that sense of self-efficacy increases their self-worth, resilience and determination to keep putting the pieces together to create meaning and positive change.

When kids aren’t sure of what they are feeling, the arts provide a vehicle for them to explore, process and express a whole range of emotions. The arts help children find their voice and use it wisely.

Neuroscience shows observing or participating in the arts increases dopamine and activates reward centers of the brain. Blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, which regulates our feelings, thoughts and actions, increases when participating in the arts. That which stirs the soul literally stirs the mind.

Anyone who watched the drama students who survived the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., perform at the Tony Awards last month saw how they drew strength, comfort and hope from participating in the arts.

At their worst, the arts can be reduced to decoration and sentimentality, but at their best, they can be a transforming force. The arts possess the power to do in us what we sometimes simply cannot do on our own.