Putting a little STEAM behind arts education

Students from the School District of Philadelphia learn about art as Dr. Albert Barnes intended. Photo courtesy The Barnes Foundation

Students from the School District of Philadelphia learn about art as Dr. Albert Barnes intended.

Photo courtesy The Barnes Foundation

We talk about building healthy communities all the time at GSK. But what exactly does that mean? Certainly it involves having access to healthcare, but so much of what contributes to our health happens outside a doctor’s office or the local health clinic. Safe, walkable neighborhoods. Fresh produce. Well-paying jobs. High-quality educational opportunities.

And, though it might sound odd for a company that puts such an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education, we know that includes arts education too—in other words, STEAM.

Today, an amazing partnership was announced between GSK and The Barnes Foundation—an arts organization like no other, with one of the finest collections of post-impressionist and early modern paintings—to bring arts education to disadvantaged kids in the School District of Philadelphia. The Barnes Foundation smART Fund for Education, established by GSK is a $500,000 endowment gift from GSK and the GSK Foundation that brings arts education to disadvantaged children in grades K-8.

Research indicates that multiple years of enrollment in arts courses are positively correlated with higher SAT verbal and math scores.  Kids who are inspired to learn through the arts are more likely to stay in school. In fact, the more education a person has, the healthier s/he is likely to be, so why wouldn’t we want to provide a more engaging the educational experience?

A strong foundation in the arts helps a child perceive the world in a different way,  learn how to debate ideas,  and approach problems creatively. We need more inquisitive and creative minds in the workforce. We want multi-dimensional thinkers pursuing careers in healthcare and public service. Creative thinkers will help solve our most pressing healthcare problems. That’s why investing in arts education is critical.

Science can influence art and vice versa. Both can have a positive impact on our communities. That’s why we are so excited to support The Barnes Foundation smART Fund for Education, established by GSK.

Try a lesson yourself--visit The Barnes' website and view the interactive infographic.