MIDLAND One of Texas’ largest oil and natural gas producers has partnered with the Museum of the Southwest to make arts education programs more accessible to youth of all ages in the Permian region.
The partnership ensures that educational programs offered through the Turner Art Museum, Durham Children’s Museum and Blakemore Planetarium will be accessible to both young children and teenagers through a variety of platforms, including drawing and art classes, storytelling, groups for reading and STEM opportunities, among many others.
Pioneer, which is based in Midland, is committing $50,000 to the initiative, which will allow the museum to offer free or low-cost courses to guests.
“Partnering with the Museum of the Southwest to offer arts education programs to youth of all ages in West Texas is a natural fit for us,” said Pioneer Natural Resources President and COO Rich Deeley. “One of the company’s ongoing missions is to support the communities where our employees live and work, and we’re proud to be involved with the museum so early education programs like these can flourish throughout the Perm region.”
The Museum of the Southwest is committed to engaging youth of all ages and abilities in immersive experiences that foster creativity and education.
Numerous studies have consistently found that introducing students to art education at an early age improves their motivation, concentration and confidence. There is also a statistical relationship between exposure to arts programs and better performance in the classroom, including gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal ability.
In Texas, high school students who took more art courses were twice as likely to graduate, 22 percent more likely to attend college, and had up to 15 percent higher achievement on standardized tests than students who took fewer arts courses, according to the 2021 State of the Arts Report from the nonprofit Texas Cultural Trust.
“We are humbled by Pioneer Natural Resources’ commitment to support this endeavor,” said Museum of the Southwest Executive Director Lori Wesley. “Art is not usually thought of as critical thinking; however, it is the beginning of new ways of thinking. Should the grass always be painted green? Big change starts with the ability to see things differently, and we are invested in the community through the eyes and minds of our youth.”
Some programs made possible through Pioneer’s partnership with the museum include Mommy and Me classes, artwork, playdates, out-of-town outreach programs, and a new field trip experience that connects museum activities to core knowledge and skills goals in Texas (TEKS).
“When your child comes on a field trip to the museum this year, not only will they enjoy the amenities on campus, but they will also engage in activities that will support what they are learning in the classroom,” said Rebecca Mena, director of the Children’s Freda Tuner Durham Museum. “There is a need to provide well-rounded, engaging educational programs that foster expressive outlets for our children.
“We are grateful to Pioneer for their support in making this a reality for our community,” she said.
Since its founding in 1997, Pioneer has established itself as a national and regional leader in oil and gas exploration, industrial innovation and manufacturing. Throughout its growth in Texas as a major independent energy company, among its enduring missions has been a deep commitment to philanthropy and volunteerism.
Pioneer’s support for the museum goes beyond his pocketbook. Employees regularly volunteer in numerous museum events aimed at building stronger communities through access to the arts. At the museum’s recent SeptemberFest arts festival, for example, more than a dozen Pioneer employees volunteered their time to ensure the success of the annual celebration.
“We are beyond grateful for the Museum of the Southwest to share its story of culture and diversity through arts education,” said Amanda Day, Pioneer’s senior advisor for government and public affairs. “Pioneer is proud to extend this compelling story to some of our youngest students in Perm through our sponsorship of the Museum’s Children’s Art Program.”