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Celebrities stress the importance of arts-based school programs

Monday and Tuesday mark the 30th anniversary of Arts Advocacy Day, which seeks to underscore the importance of arts in the country and on the economy.

The importance of the day has even more meaning for arts advocates in 2017. President Donald Trump’s proposed budget plan, unveiled last week, looks to eliminate funding for federal programs in the arts and humanities. It comes at a time when several stars have spoken out in support of these programs.

Earlier this month, Chance the Rapper drew praise for his million dollar contribution to support arts education in Chicago Public Schools. 

Activist and actress Rosie Perez yet again stressed her commitment to arts-integrated programs last week as she celebrated the 25th anniversary of her organization, Urban Arts Partnership. The nonprofit has provided in-school and after-school art-based programs in several low-income New York and Los Angeles communities. 

Perez, like Chance the Rapper, calls herself a product of these programs and is among the celebrities helping young students reach their potential. 

She recently opened up to CBS News at her organization’s anniversary benefit dinner in New York City. 

“You put a camera or a microphone in a kid’s hand and say this is how it’s done, this is how you hold the camera and do the editing, and you change their life,” she said.  

“When you have a kid who keeps failing the regents and feeling like a loser and does a three-week arts program and passes it, that feeling of being defeated and the world is against you is washed away. That kid can be a productive member of the United States. They are no longer a statistic.”  

Singer Andra Day attends the celebration of Urban Arts Partnership 25th Anniversary Benefit at Cipriani Wall Street on March 15, 2017 in New York City. Nia Stevens

Award-winning singer Andra Day works closely with several students as part of the organization’s youth program. 

“I’m a product of arts education and of teachers in a community who believed in students who loved the arts,” Day told CBS News. 

“These kids today are brilliant and are visionaries and need support, that’s what I try to do.”