FAIRFIELD — The Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University and the Bridgeport Public Schools Department of Performing and Visual Arts have announced an expansive “Arts for All” partnership, designed to benefit Bridgeport students and the greater community at large.

The partnership was guided by the shared belief that arts educational experiences have significant impact on students’ academic, social, and emotional outcomes, said Peter Van Heerden, executive director of the Quick Center.

With a joint commitment of providing Bridgeport students with arts access, high quality arts instruction, and exposure to diverse arts experiences, the partnership will impact over 3,000 students in grades K-12, Van Heerden said. The partnership goes far deeper than typical collaborations, providing direct access to well-known and emerging artists, opportunities for internship, and financial scholarships, he said.

“As a world class performing arts center, we have the opportunity to expose students to incredible artists at the forefront of their craft from all over the globe. Through direct interactive education and learning opportunities, our partnership aims to expose and integrate the arts into the lives of the students, and to nurture their creativity and belief in themselves and the arts,” he said.

“This partnership becomes a model for ‘Arts for All’ and creates a direct line of access to the arts for the community,” Van Heerden added.

Alicia Robinson, Director of Performing & Visual Arts for Bridgeport Public Schools, said, “Our district is underfunded at the city and state level in relation to other nearby communities. This is an opportunity to provide resources where they are very much needed and deserved. There is a true desire amongst Bridgeport students to make these connections with adults. The arts are a great access point to bring in these connections.”

Robinson added, “We’ve all heard of the achievement gap, but there’s also a opportunity gap across our communities. This new partnership helps to level the playing field and ensures that Bridgeport students have equal opportunities. This partnership will increase their world outlook and break down geographical barriers. My biggest hope is that participating students see more of the world out there.”

Bridgeport students will experience hands-on learning through artist-led educational programs including workshops, master classes, and panel discussions with Quick Center performers. Additionally, the partnership includes access to the Quick’s School Matinee Series to expose students to live theater performances, including pre- and post-performance workshops with Fairfield University faculty.

The Quick Center has also donated 2,000 tickets for the 2019/20 season to Bridgeport students and their families to encourage a greater understanding of the art form, create cultural dialogue, and foster a connection to both real world artists and contemporary issues.

Additionally, high school juniors and seniors can pursue internships at the Quick Center to learn about potential career choices in arts administration in the areas of Programming, Marketing, Finance & Administration, Technical Theatre, and Development/Fundraising.

The Quick will provide scholarships for Bridgeport students to participate in Quick Summer Intensive classes in a variety of topics including musical theater, visual art, dance, photography and fashion, serving over one hundred 4th-10th grade students.

There will also be an educator professional development component, led by Fairfield University faculty.

The benefits of the partnership are not limited to Bridgeport students, nor the Bridgeport community. Rather, the benefits of fostering a lifetime engagement in arts and culture are far-reaching, Robinson said.

Studies have shown that audience-based participation in the arts and personal participation in creating art are linked to higher levels of civic engagement, higher levels of social tolerance, and higher levels of other-regarding behavior, and that a strong association between the arts and individual-level social outcomes contribute to the health of civil society, she said.

“Once our students leave high school and are in the work place, they will have engaged in conversation with diverse people, and will have been exposed to new outlooks and insights through this program,” said Robinson.

“We have already received extremely positive feedback from the students and teachers that have attended Quick events and participated in dialogue with the artists, including comments like, ‘This is eye opening’ and ‘I never thought I could make a career out of this,’” she added.

“This partnership is giving our students personal experiences, to help them experiment artistically, and perhaps to inspire someone to move forward with their dreams. At the end of the day, we are all a community and we need to support each other,“ said Robinson.