SCHMOPERA | A little over a year ago, the team that would make up ArtSmart sat down to take a hard look at the role of the arts in public school curriculum. Brian Levor is a percussionist and teacher; John Viscardi runs a health care company and is a baritone with a burgeoning career; and Michael Fabiano is one of the world’s leading operatic tenors. All three were focused on two realities of arts education: that there isn’t enough of it, and that students who do pursue arts degrees accumulate large amounts of student debt, while having a difficult time finding work in their field.
Fabiano, Levor, and Viscardi have started ArtSmart, an organization with goals to improve the quantity and quality of public school arts curriculum, and to provide meaningful work opportunities for adult graduates of esteemed music programs.
ArtSmart offers high-quality music education and private voice lessons, free of charge, to under-served students in schools with limited music programs. The teachers, one could argue, come from an under-served group of their own. Fabiano explains, “We provide teaching opportunities to recent graduates of good schools, qualified schools and universities, who are very excited to teach young teens.” He adds that bilingualism is an important quality for ArtSmart teachers, with a high rate of Spanish-speaking students within their target communities.