FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - The Partnering Arts, Communities, and Education, or PACE program, is a grant program that began back in 2015 through the Indiana Arts Commission as a way to introduce arts into education through community arts organizations.
In 2016, the program was brought to the attention of Brenda West, the principal at South Wayne Elementary School in Fort Wayne. She was on board from the beginning.
West said, "We got a call saying “Hey we got a grant, are you interested? It has to do with movement and dance.” Anything that puts art in front of my kids I’m interested in because I think arts is a great connection to learning."
And the research supports that. Indiana Arts Commission Chair Kathy Anderson says they’ve been doing research on the programs to see if there is a relationship between art and academic success, and it’s good news for South Wayne students.
"We’ve seen an amazing growth with the students and research is really proving they are doing much better in the classroom overall after they get the arts instruction," Anderson said.
The Fort WayneDance Collective were the recipients of the grant three years ago. Sydney Pacula was tasked with teaching the students how to use their movement in a constructive way. Something the Fort Wayne Dance Collective always aims to do.
Pacula said, "That’s a huge part of our mission as it is. So, to be able to translate that into the classroom is part of the work that we’ve grown up doing and that the organization has grown to do."
Even though the PACE grant has ended, the program is slated to continue through community support, which was the ultimate goal for the Indiana Arts Commission
Anderson said, "That was really the idea for the PACE program to demonstrate to Indiana, and educators in Indiana, the value of arts education and how it truly enhances the total education of the student."