Muza Kids: A Year in the Arts is a non-profit organization founded in 2013, dedicated to serving low-income children who have few opportunities for participation in the arts. Muza is “muse” in Swahili, the muse being a historically important symbol of creative inspiration. Over the course of a school year, Muza Kids will provide participants with the opportunity to visit museums, experience the theater, see dance performances, and listen to concerts. We will then complement these experiences with activities and discussion designed to broaden the impact of the cultural event onto other aspects of the children’s lives. Those of us working at Muza Kids believe passionately in the power of cultural experiences to change lives. Many of us have vivid arts memories that have had a deep and lasting effect on our aesthetic appreciation, our love of learning, our belief in what is possible to achieve through inspiration and perseverance. This is the goal of Muza. To inspire children’s appetite for learning, questioning, and exploring what might be possible for them.
Children with limited economic resources typically have little or no access to the arts. Research shows that involvement in arts education is associated with greater attention skills, long-term memory, creativity, and critical thinking skills, as well as providing opportunities for social skills development and problem solving. A survey commissioned by the Santa Clara County Office of Education shows that with every year, there is fewer staff to coordinate and provide art education or exposure to the arts in the schools; only about one-third of the districts in the county have a coordinator. The districts and schools that Muza Kids are interested in serving have little in the way of systematic planning or funding to provide children with arts exposure or education of any kind. This lack of opportunity closes an important avenue for developing essential development skills and self-confidence. Research shows that the arts is more than just “fun time”:
The value of arts education is often phrased in enrichment terms…it is also an effective tool in school-wide reform and fixing some of our biggest educational challenges. It is not a flower, but a wrench.1
Beyond the aesthetic pleasure of seeing beautiful paintings or the thrill of watching a play, arts exposure helps children to develop their intellectual and social capacities. Arts exposure can also equip youngsters with the cultural capital needed to compete with their more advantaged peers.
Muza Kids seeks to be a community organization that provides poor children and their families the opportunity to immerse themselves in words, music, drama, and the visual beauty that bring us so much satisfaction.
Muza Kids Thanks Our Supporters! We couldn’t do it without you.
San Jose Museum of Art
Panera Bread, Cupertino, CA
Susan & Thomas Koch, Jr.
David & Margaret Gates
Ted & Linda Gates
Whole Foods Market, Cupertino
The Golden Dawn Gallery, Margarete Bagshaw & Dan McGinnis
Ricki & Scott Kresan
Sanjiv & Sudha Kaul
“I am so glad I participated in Muza Kids. Those three field trips were so much fun. My main trip that I liked was Stanford because we made something with clay and because we went on the train.” (Muza Kids participant, 2014)
“I loved the San Jose Museum of Art! We saw a lot of art, I was amazed. I liked that we were able to share our ideas.” (Muza Kids participant, 2014)