University launches annual Arts & Education Council fund drive

Research has shown that high-school musicians score 57 points higher on the verbal section of the SAT and 41 points higher on the math section than nonmusicians. Students who have taken music appreciation courses score 63 and 44 points higher, respectively.

Of course, the Arts & Education (A&E) Council of Greater St. Louis has known such facts for decades. Since 1963, the A&E Council — which does not receive government support and relies solely on donations from local individuals and institutions — has raised more than $86 million to support St. Louis-area arts, culture and education.

In 2005, it will provide assistance to nearly 100 organizations throughout the region.

University employees are again being asked to contribute to the A&E Council’s annual fund drive.

“Every day, in schools and neighborhoods across the St. Louis community, someone is being changed and challenged by the magic of the arts,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton wrote in a recent letter to University employees. “Our goal is to raise $28,000 from Washington University faculty and staff for the campaign.

“It’s amazing to think that if just 2,000 of our 14,000 employees gave $4 a month, we could raise nearly $100,000!”

Faculty and staff received Wrighton’s letter last week, along with a packet of information about this year’s campaign, called “Keep Art Happening,” and a pledge card that explains how contributions are used and the benefits to those who contribute.

All contributors of $50 or more receive the A&E Card, which entitles them to receive two-for-one or discounted admission to more than 200 events and performances each year. Participating venues include Jazz at the Bistro, The Black Rep, Dance St. Louis, Opera Theatre of St. Louis and many others.

Such contributors also receive the bi-monthly Arts Newsletter, where all the special deals are listed.

More significantly, that $50 contribution will provide pointe shoes for a ballerina, or fuel a theater touring van for a week, or allow an aspiring artist to attend a six-week drawing or painting class. A contribution of $100 underwrites a summer scholarship, creates a teacher-education packet or supplies a needy dance student with shoes and clothing.

“I think it’s important for Washington University to stand front-and-center as an advocate for the arts in St. Louis,” said Henry I. Schvey, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences, who is heading the campus campaign. “The arts bring us together in unique and essential ways. They help us to recognize the diversity of our community even as they create a real sense of unity that benefits us all.”