History of HP Arts

In 1986, Jim Gibson arrived as the new principal of Highland Park High School to find arts facilities that were too small, too few, and out-of-date. At the time, there was not a specialized classroom for art at the high school, and the band, choir, and orchestra groups were forced to share a single room for class sessions and rehearsals. Gibson envisioned a community group that would support fine arts in HPISD in the same manner that the Sports Club supported athletics. Gibson and HPISD Fine Arts Director, Linda Raya, recruited a small group of parents who were passionate about arts education in their schools. HP Arts was born in 1987 under its first President, Nancy Seay.

HP Arts was incorporated as a non-profit organization on July 23, 1987, with the stated mission of “enriching the educational experience of all HPISD children through arts programming.” The board was forward-thinking, already anticipating the negative impacts of impending school finance legislation, and fund-raising efforts began immediately. HP Arts applied for grants from various foundations. La Fiesta de las Seis Banderas became its cornerstone beneficiary, providing a significant source of funding each year. In the early years, HP Arts provided mostly programs such as concerts and artist visits. As the State of Texas school finance policy changes continued to drain money from HPISD, the scope of HP Arts grew to include purchase of capital items such as musical instruments for band and orchestra.

Through annual grants and donations from parents and community members, HP Arts provides funding for programs and capital items for all eight HPISD campuses. In addition, HP Arts has undertaken several major initiatives over the years:

To date, HP Arts has provided over 1.3 million dollars of arts programming and equipment to benefit HPISD students in grades K through 12. HP Arts also supports major district arts events such as the Highlander Festival Arts Showcase and the Highland Park Literary Festival. While the main focus is arts enrichment for students, HP Arts also annually funds the Linda Raya Scholarships to HPHS graduating seniors, honors a community member who has been a significant supporter of arts within HPISD with the Arts Advocate Award, hosts a Fine Arts Faculty Appreciation Event, and recognizes outstanding teachers with the Fine Art Teacher of the Year Award and the Arts in Education Teacher Award (a non-arts teacher who uses the arts to enrich classroom curriculum).  In addition, The Artisan newsletter is published three times a year to update HP Arts patrons on current activities.There is a quote attributed to Pablo Picasso which says, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” HP Arts continues to provide artistic experiences and outlets for every child in HPISD to sustain their “inner artist.” Long after they leave Highland Park, they will be able to seek out and appreciate the art that is a part of everyday life.

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