NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In the 1970s, public funding for the arts in New York City public schools was decimated.

That’s when a nonprofit program, called Studio in a School, stepped in. Now, it is 40 years old. As CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock reports, the program is still making a splash.

“It’s so much fun to learn and it makes you smarter,” 7-year-old Michelle Yumble said, explaining why she likes art.

Yumble, along with her classmates from PS 152 in the Bronx and hundreds of other New York City school students, spent Thursday morning in Midtown, observing bold, beautiful artwork.

“I see a fish,” one girl said.

“A bird,” she added, with a little help from her friend.

They also fine-tuned their artistic talents.

American Marin, 7, drew her own sketch of a bird wearing “cool clothing.”

The students all benefit from Studio in a School, and the art making day was part of the organization’s 40 year celebration.

“Arts education, in our opinion, is a right, not a privilege,” Executive Director for New York City Chris Wisniewski said. “We come into schools where there might not be an art teacher and we provide instruction.”

The instructors are exhibit artists in the city.

Delsa Camacho, an 18-year veteran, says teaching art doesn’t feel like work. She loves to see surprise on her students’ faces.

“I remember this girl that I was reading a book about how the color mixing happens, and when she did it on paper, she said, ‘Oh my god, it happened for real,'” she said.

The organization is privately funded, helped by the state and city too. After decades of cuts, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration says art education is being reinvigorated, with more art teachers than ever before and $23 million more per year.

[graphiq id=”cw2Z8i7rpAN” title=”Studio In A School Association Income Breakdown” width=”600″ height=”537″ url=”” frozen=”true”]

Those funds make a big difference to students.

One boy showed Murdock a portrait he drew of his classmate, Joel.

This year, Studio in a School will serve more than 30,000 city students. During its 40-year history, more than one million students have benefited.