Art4AllA seventh grade drum-circle jam, and a hip hop how-to for fifth graders, are just two of the many arts instruction classes brought to Red Bank Middle School by the Count Basie Theatre’s “Arts for All” program, which presents its final session of the year this Tuesday. (Photos by Mary Wyman/ Red Bank Public Schools)

Press release from Red Bank Middle School

As schools across the country are working to integrate arts into their curriculum, Red Bank Middle School has developed an innovative way of bringing a comprehensive arts program to its students—thanks to the Count Basie Theatre.

Called “Arts for All,” the program has brought different arts instruction to each grade at the middle school every Tuesday. Fourth graders are learning cultural dance, while fifth graders are doing hip hop. Sixth grade students are taking theater classes, while the seventh grade is learning percussion. And eighth graders are taking part in a Rwandan Literacy Arts project, in which students create a chapter and illustrations for a book that will be used to teach English to students at the Kampanga and Bisate schools in Rwanda. The drawings that the students create will also be printed onto tiles that will be installed at the schools.

The program is being administered and funded in part by the Count Basie Theatre, which is raising money by donating $10 from every ticket sold for the Bobby Bandiera and Friends Hope Concert 8 events on December 23. In addition, the Basie asked attendees to donate a minimum of $3 for tickets sold to other shows through October 31. So far Count Basie has raised $10,000 toward the costs of the Arts for All program, which presents its final session of 2015 tomorrow, December 15.

“At the core of our recently announced expansion plans is our education and outreach programs,” Count Basie CEO and President Adam Philipson explained. “This new and deeper partnership with Red Bank Middle School will instill a passion for the arts among students and create a replicable model for the 21st century.”

Arts for All was born out of a series of meetings held by state Senator Jennifer Beck with school officials, parents, and members of area arts organizations to help restore and maintain the school’s orchestra program. Count Basie representatives were invited to attend, and Philipson presented the concept of bringing a different discipline of arts education to each middle school grade.

The Red Bank Middle School has also applied for a $1,000 grant from the Red Bank Borough Education Foundation, to pay for tiles to send to one of the schools in Rwanda. In addition, the school has requested a second $1,000 grant for a duplicate set of tiles to install at RBMS to commemorate the project, said Stacy Sherwood, supervisor of curriculum.

Jared Rumage, the superintendent of the Red Bank Borough Public Schools, called the program “a terrific opportunity to expose our kids to a variety of areas of the arts,” while expanding the partnership with the historic Count Basie Theatre, which also oversees an integrated arts professional development program at the primary school.