The Colorado Springs Conservatory Navigates the Pandemic and Flourishes

Bringing Programming to Thousands of More Children Throughout the Pikes Peak Region

csc covid-19

The Colorado Springs Conservatory (CSC) has been providing high-quality arts education and subsequent positive life skills for youth in the Pikes Peak region for over 26 years. Challenging times such as those brought on by the COVID pandemic have been met by CSC leadership with fortitude and creativity.

This uncertain time has presented an opportunity for CSC to expand not only its reach to a larger audience but to also further develop its delivery methods to now include LIVE virtual, pre-recorded You tube and television and onsite with the future goal of including mobile.

The importance and relevance of social emotional wellbeing is paramount given the tremendous impact on the community, particularly the youth, of social distancing, closures and measures put in place for safety yet which lead to isolation.

In recognition of the gravity of this impact, CSC leadership acted with haste to begin implementation of online programming. CSC has been successful in providing online programming in the form of 35 classes and 90 private lessons online on a weekly basis, to include, Studio (5 classes), Singer/Songwriter (1 class), Recording Arts (2 classes), Theory (10 classes), Novice (1 class), Piano Lab, Theater (4 classes), and Private lessons (90), Partner Program (8 classes), Head Start and TRE (the Resource Exchange) (1 class – made available through CPCD portal to over 1,800 families), A Positive Note (2 classes). CSC has also begun the creation and production of pre-recorded Simple Gift Series classes which increases reach and access across the region and state.

Mission Driven Curriculum More Important Than Ever for Youth and Families

It has always been the Mission of the Colorado Springs Conservatory to inspire, motivate and challenge students to aspire to their highest potential as artists and human beings through arts immersion studies and community arts advocacy and the CSC has proven to be successful in helping students achieve this and more. It became evident that along with acquiring a high-quality arts education and an impressive skill set, students from CSC were developing and building upon other skills that have not traditionally been focused on as benefits of the arts.

Through their work CSC began to notice students were achieving greater academic success and were not only graduating high school but being accepted to higher education institutions of their choosing.

Along with this, students were experiencing increased self-confidence, self-efficacy and self-esteem and were building upon skills related to trust and collaboration.

Based on these outcomes, CSC has been on a very intentional journey toward understanding how their programming affected the social and emotional learning and development of their students.

Measuring Impact

In 2019, CSC began collecting data with the use of a newly developed evaluation tool. Data gathered from students ages 6-18 shows that participation in programs at CSC positively influences overall social and mental wellbeing in students, especially older students who have been at CSC longer.

Parents feel that CSC programming has positively or greatly contributed to their student’s social and emotional wellbeing as well as increased their peer and mentor support network, sense of self-worth/esteem, coping and other life skills, goal-setting, work ethic, and communication skills.

Both younger and older children are not only enjoying their time in arts education, they are also self-perceiving additional, personal benefits.

In a partnership with Centennial Elementary School made possible by a grant through the Denver Foundation, Transforming Safety initiative psecific to Southeast Colorado Springs to help youth develop the skills and resilience to avoid, reduce, or stop high risk behaviors that can lead to involvement with the criminal justice system, CSC gathered further supportive data. Through this grant, CSC is further strengthening its role in its ability to reduce high risk behaviors, increase protective factors, and build resiliency as well as support social equity and justice for these youth. This partnership has made arts immersion programming available to all 511 students at CES.

Data suggests that participation in this program elicits increased self-confidence, peer support, teamwork, empathy, ability to handle new/different situations (i.e. new skill acquisition and demonstration), and managing difficult emotions well (i.e. vulnerability, embarrassment, shyness).

Feedback from parent surveys further supports these outcomes in that these students have begun forming healthy bonds with peers and adult mentors, are experiencing increased self-esteem or self-worth, improving coping skills, setting higher goals for themselves, improving time management skills, have increased positive work ethic, improved communication skills, and have learned skills that they can use in other areas of their life.

CSC Proves to Be an Excellent Partner for All

There is not a more diverse or inclusive arts organization that serves a broader sector than CSC in this region. CSC maintains ongoing relationships with a myriad of sectors to include education, military, senior, early childhood, public, developmentally delayed, and health.

CSC serves as the “go-to” organization for these sectors for either community enhancement or engagement as it relates to social emotional wellness.

The important role that CSC plays in the community has become even more evident during this time as leaders from various sectors call upon CSC for support.

Due to CSC’s long-standing record of positive impact and outcomes, those in the community recognize the effectiveness of CSC’s programming.

The effects of COVID-19 will serve to deepen CSC’s relationships and further solidify its role as an integral community partner.

Pre-Pandemic

  • CSC has been providing high quality arts immersion programming for over 26 years in the Pikes Peak region. Enrollment, programs and outreach have increased to serve over 1,500 students annually.
  • In 2019, CSC began collecting data with the use of a newly developed evaluation tool. Data gathered from students ages 6-18 shows that participation in programs at CSC positively influences overall social and mental wellbeing in students, especially older students who have been at CSC longer. Parents feel that CSC programming has positively or greatly contributed to their student’s social and emotional wellbeing as well as increased their peer and mentor support network, sense of self-worth/esteem, coping and other life skills, goal-setting, work ethic, and communication skills. Both younger and older children are not only enjoying their time in arts education, they are also self-perceiving additional, personal benefits.
  • CSC revised and enhanced their early childhood development curriculum into the Early Childhood Music & Literacy PICCOLO program for children birth through 48 months. This program emphasizes learning and development as well as the importance of the role of the parent/caregiver. Each section of the PICCOLO program consists of curriculum designed specifically to development in the areas of motor, language, cognitive, and social emotional. This program additionally provides the opportunity for significant caretaker/family bonding and development of self-awareness and self-regulation as well as self-expression. In partnership with CPCD Early Head Start, the program bagan implementation in January 2020 in all 11 Early Head Start Classes.

Eclipse of the COVID Pandemic – March 2020

CSC recognizes the gravity of the impact that the mitigation measures will likely have on students, families and the community. CSC pivots to begin new program delivery through live online classes.

Within a week, the CSC programming is being delivered to families, students and partner organizations.

Enduring effects of the pandemic – April 2020

  • CSC is successfully implementing online programming to over 200 students on a weekly basis.
  • CSC begins creation and production of an additional platform to provide further access and flexibility for students and families through pre-recorded classes to be offered on the CSC YouTube channel and RMPBS.
  • CSC has expands access to programming, reaching an additional 2,000 students and families through various programs and partnerships

Moving forward into the new normal – June 2020

  • CSC recognizes the potential long term effects of pandemic on individuals as well as institutions and begins working on a fourth platform of program delivery – mobile programming.
  • CSC delivering smaller ‘camps’ on site to include recording arts, DJ camp, chamber music and theater. Additionally, private lessons move on site for one on one instruction.
  • CSC continues to deliver LIVE virtual classes and lessons as well. Included in this offering are the Early Childhood class now live into all the Early Head Start and Head Start classrooms. Our most challenged and youngest citizens now have access to the joy of music and arts education three times weekly!

An Exciting and Courageous Future

The CSC leadership and team have proven to be effective in creating, manifesting, delivering programming and measuring impact even in the most uncertain of times.

CSC is diving into an early Fall 2020 semester with all options and communciations open to best serve the community and region the best arts immersion learning and performance experiences possible in the most uncertain of times.