PRESS RELEASE - January 29, 2004
Office of The Governor
Capitol Bldg., 4th Floor
Santa Fe, NM 87503

Gilbert Gallegos
(505) 476-2217

Governor Bill Richardson backs up commitment to Arts education with $9 million

SANTA FE - Governor Bill Richardson today announced a dynamic plan to enhance and provide quality arts education programs to all New Mexico school districts.

Governor Richardson delivered the following remarks during a news conference today:

I am strongly committed to arts in schools. Art instruction is a critical part of learning, and should be part of every school curriculum. I’ve never wavered from that commitment.

As I said before, I object to paying for an arts program that this year benefited just 20 percent of New Mexico’s schools, while excluding 80 percent. All elementary schools should have the option to provide arts education.

I’m making two major announcements today about arts education.

First, after discussions with my Secretary of Education, Veronica Garcia, Secretary of Cultural Affairs Stuart Ashman, and representatives from the arts community, I’m recommending that we increase funding for arts instruction from $4 million last year to $9 million for the next school year.

Secretary Garcia will ensure that the Public Education Department will distribute the money to all districts that have approved arts programs.

Secretary Garcia will reach out and encourage all 89 districts to develop programs and apply for funding, as opposed to the 23 districts that got money for the current school year.

I don’t want schools to miss out on this opportunity simply because they don’t know about it, or they don’t have the resources to develop a program.

We are establishing a statewide Arts Advisory Board, which will include arts educators, teachers, principals, higher education, community arts providers, and the business community.

We will provide much-needed training, technical assistance and community partnerships for arts teachers across the state. We will use 1-million dollars - out of the 9-million dollars - to ensure districts succeed with their arts programs.

We will enlist support from two new divisions: Indian Education and Rural Education to help rural schools and schools with Native American students to develop quality arts education plans and programs.

Second, my Secretary of Cultural Affairs is opening up the upper floor of the new state building on Museum Hill to enhance the educational opportunities of thousands of students and hundreds of teachers in New Mexico.

This will be housed at the building on Museum Hill, which the former Administration had planned for administrative functions. We are committing the entire second floor - 5-thousand square feet - directly to arts education.

This new initiative directly relates to my plans for arts education in New Mexico schools.

Our Museum Outreach department, working with all of the organizations within the Department of Cultural Affairs, will provide teacher training, hands-on workshops and seminars and conferences in this new center.

We’re proposing after-school programs, distance learning, on-site teacher training, courses that translate into college credit at UNM, and many other exciting programs that will benefit arts instruction in public schools.

What we’re doing is simple; we’re creating partnerships with community based arts education providers to get more bang for the taxpayer buck.

This is what I envisioned for the Public Education Department when I asked voters last year to create a Secretary of Education. I want the Department to work with districts and communities to find solutions to challenges.