How the new Center for Visual & Performing Arts at Arlington ISD meets the future of work in the arts

Cathy Hutchison
7 min readMar 8, 2021
Exterior Center for Visual & Performing Arts at Arlington ISD photo by Chad Davis
Photo: Chad Davis

How well are we preparing today’s students for the future of work?

And how is education supposed to train students for a future that has yet to be defined?

Research by global consulting firm, McKinsey, predicts that ”the hardest activities to automate with currently available technologies are those that involve managing and developing people (9% automation potential) or that apply expertise to decision making, planning, or creative work (18%).”

What if the very programs that struggle for funding are the ones most needed for what comes next? What if arts education is essential to train students for a future that is still being written?

The digital future accelerates the need for artists.

Natalie Nixon, in her article for Inc. Magazine on Why the Future of Work Needs Artists, highlights how student artists develop cultural fluency and the ability to think in the abstract. They create portfolio experience and learn to visualize from a unique point of view. Most importantly, the arts foster curiosity and the ability to imagine — essentials in a world where most future jobs don’t even exist yet.

In the past, work in the arts wasn’t as abundant. Student dreams were limited to Broadway, playing in a city orchestra, or hoping for a television talent search to give them a break. It’s no wonder many student artists were encouraged by parents to “have a backup plan.”

But now, this shift to a digital future requires a volume of artistic content. Creators are in increasingly high demand for the very skills that arts programs foster — like the ones at Arlington Independent School District (AISD) — such as music, acting, writing, ideation, and visual arts.

This increased demand is putting pressure on schools for facilities to support their arts programs. And it’s a tough path to get there.

For school districts across the US, the road from a need for facilities to opening day is a long one. Planning, pursuit, bond measures, and meetings with stakeholders creates a lengthy process. By the…

Cathy Hutchison

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