Florida State Senator Darryl Rouson and Representative Ben Diamond are calling on the Florida Legislature to recognize the importance of arts education in our state.
They filed companion bills for the Florida Seal of Fine Arts program that would encourage students to develop a high level of skill in visual or performing arts — and provide recognition for their accomplishments with a gold seal on their high school diploma and on their record.
In addition to four years of arts coursework, the program also calls for an arts-related community service “capstone” project.
SPAA’s Arts for a Complete Education (ACE) committee assisted the Pinellas County School District in securing the sponsorship of Senator Rouson and Representative Diamond for the bill. ACE is the arts education advocacy arm of the Arts Alliance, promoting arts education in public schools at both the district and state levels.
You can find out more about Arts for a Complete Education here.
A press conference was held on January 7 by Representative Diamond announcing the filing of House Bill 1123. The companion Senate bill — SB 1100 — was filed earlier by Senator Rouson. Both were present in support of the bill and of the arts in general.
Rouson recalled his four years as a student at Bishop Barry High School (now St. Pete Catholic), where he was president of the Drama Club. “I understand the work that these young people put in during school hours, and after hours,” he said. “I wish there had been the opportunity to have a seal on my diploma recognizing that hard work that I put in for those four years of high school.
“Through the Florida Seal for Fine Arts,” he added, “we’re encouraging future generations to contribute to our ever-growing community of the arts.”
Dr. Michael Grego, Superintendent of Pinellas County Schools also spoke: “Academics are exceedingly important — but it’s also important to balance that with life skills for the students. The arts accomplish that.”
Pinellas County is fortunate to have such strong arts advocates in our legislative delegation and in our public schools. As the 2020 Legislative Session begins, we need to continue our advocacy to secure the bill’s passage.
You can find out more about SB 1100 here.