Learning and participation in music, dance, theater, and the visual arts are vital to the development of our children and our communities. Through advocacy, research, partnerships, and professional development, Americans for the Arts strives to provide and secure more resources and support for arts education. Visit AmericansForTheArts.org for more information on the Arts Education Network.
Although each of us can probably recall a time when success could be defined as not losing (too much) ground, we all want to feel like our efforts have been worth the commitment and have made a lasting difference in some way.
During my ten years at ArtsEd Washington, we saw these rewards when we worked with school principals implementing the Principals Arts Leadership program to help them be effective instructional leaders for the arts. This program confirmed the importance of the principals’ role in the day-to-day provision of arts learning and also illuminated for us how difficult that role is to sustain without the context of a supportive school district publicly committed to the arts. Read the rest of this entry »
Arts integration has ebbed and flowed in American schools since the 1940’s, in various forms. I read a recent grant proposal that pointed out the challenges of the arts in service of other subjects versus the arts as equal too all subjects. The tension between STEM and STEAM demonstrates ongoing discomfort with integrating subject areas. But intellectual rigor and intense creativity are not mutually exclusive. Read the rest of this entry »
What a treat to be in Sweet’s Ballroom in Oakland, home-away-from-home for Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Tito Puente, Dizzie Gillespie, Lalo Guerrero, Xavier Cugat, and so many more! And how wonderful for Sweet’s Ballroom to be a part of the Oakland School of the Arts, allowing their talented students to follow in the footsteps of the some of the greatest musicians in history.
The convening on January 30-31, 2015, was made possible by CREATE CA, which brought together over 225 arts leaders from across California for two days of listening, working, and participating in learning about CREATE CA and its release of A Blueprint for Creative Schools (funded by the California Arts Council). Spearheaded by the amazing Malissa Feruzzi Shriver and others, this important work began in 2011 as part of the Education Leaders Institute (ELI) funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Read the rest of this entry »
Public schools are full of turmoil these days. Debate over the shift to the Common Core Standards that has taken place over the last few years is causing tension. Teachers are working overtime to figure out the new standardized tests that have been created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) to assess the new standards. People are concerned about the amount of standardized testing occurring in our schools throughout the year. Most recently, parents in some communities are taking action and pulling their children from taking the standardized tests. Read the rest of this entry »
We are in a springtime of mixed messages in America. Some graduation ceremonies feature stories of great opportunity by commencement speakers, while others are solemn events where graduating seniors are simply processed out the door toward an uncertain future. Clearly, some systems and communities are doing a better job of preparing our children for a creative, successful future. The arts can make a difference between these two outcomes–while there are certainly many other factors involved, the arts are proven to make a positive difference toward graduation and a better learning experience. That is why Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that arts education, or the lack of it, has become “a civil rights issue in America.” And The Conference Board’s Ready to Innovate study found that employers want 21st century employees who are creative; this age of innovation demands a creative workforce. At the top of the list for how to become creative is having the arts in the curriculum when the young people were in school. Read the rest of this entry »
For eight years now, Americans for the Arts has partnered with our nation’s Lieutenant Governors to promote arts education and other arts-related issues. I am often asked, “Jay, why do we work with the Lt. Governors?” The answer is simple. Whether they are elected directly, or on a ticket, Lt. Governors have broad portfolios including many aspects of tourism, creative economy, education, and economic development. Secondly, almost half of them go on to become their state’s next governor. Read the rest of this entry »
Across the country, the arts are changing: demographics are shifting, modes of artistic participation are becoming more diverse, and once segmented artistic practices are converging. These changes ring true for both public art and arts education, and over the past year these respective fields have been discussing their convergence.
The Public Art and Arts Education Programs at Americans for the Arts endeavor to explore this intersection, better understand the potential for collaborations, and create tools and resources for encouraging inter-sector cooperation.
As a first step, we have begun to research the shared space. There is an inherent connection between the intrinsic goals of both areas of artistic study and practice. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s my favorite time of year – spring is here! The season of rebirth and awakening is finally upon us. We shed our layers, watch everything and everyone come back to life, spring-clean our nests, update our calendar with upcoming culminating events and pay our taxes too.
As part of my annual tax prep, a digital spring-clean ensues. Every year I set aside some time (less than an hour every few days for about a week) to comb through the previous year’s email. I move important messages and archive them in labeled folders; Google Drive is awesome for this task. Read the rest of this entry »
I grew up attending family orchestral concerts with my mother, two childhood friends and their parents, and my piano teacher who, contrary to the stereotype, I was very fond of. We would head over to the symphony hall every few months to experience the orchestra, and I was even encouraged to enjoy the experience more with the promise of a trip to a favorite restaurant afterwards. Experiencing entertainment aimed at children just my age, with people I loved, the opportunity should have all led to positive experiences with the orchestra. Yet, every family concert morning, I would wake up with dread of the boredom that I was about to endure. I grew up hating orchestral kid’s concerts!
Thinking back on how I would watch the seconds on my watch go around until the concert was over, I now spend a great deal of time considering what it was that so repelled me. Read the rest of this entry »
Five years ago, the Colburn School asked a fundamental question: How do we prepare conservatory students for careers in the 21st century? There were many suggestions put forward, but one idea kept rising to the top. Professional musicians entering the work field, the group agreed, must also be great teachers.
“Regardless of career path, musicians of the 21st century will always teach,” said Colburn Conservatory of Music Dean Richard Beene. “It is our responsibility to prepare students at the conservatory for a variety of careers in classical music, and teaching is a skill we hope all of our students acquire during their time at the Colburn School.” Read the rest of this entry »
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” is a common refrain for describing the world’s most successful people and history’s most brilliant ideas and discoveries. Perseverance in the face of adversity can lead to major breakthroughs. Unfortunately in our hyperactive, high-stakes world of standardized testing, making time in the classroom for discovery, revision, and reflection without fear of judgment is now considered an unaffordable luxury. Read the rest of this entry »
Urban school districts, such as New York and Chicago, are taking bold steps to expand the school day curriculum and once again invest in arts education. After years of budget cuts, and a narrowing of curriculum at public schools across the country, cities are taking action.
Owing largely to mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, school districts of all sizes spent recent years focusing educational goals very narrowly on improving test scores in just two subject areas—English Language and Math. This focus came at the expense of the arts, music, and other subject areas that were not being tested.
Fortunately, the tide may be turning, and arts education may be making comeback. Read the rest of this entry »
I have launched my own version of a television show… for an audience of one. Henry, my first grandchild, has been my avid collaborator for over 2 years. Although we are separated by thousands of miles, we are “close” thanks to frequent video conferencing. Tours of my house and yard, co-reading books, playing with puppets, singing songs, playing instruments, counting oranges or abacus beads, and just chatting are part of our “together time.” The huge difference between my TV show and “prime time” TV is that mine is tailored to the interests and needs of Henry. He has an integral role in the choice of content as well as the pacing and types of interaction in which we engage. Read the rest of this entry »
Music is a central part of life for many of us, whether we listen, dance or play. It makes us feel good, or transports our imagination, but what is going on in our brain? Can music be used to help an ailing brain, or boost a learning one? An emerging field of Music Cognition is studying these important questions using new tools such as brain imaging that allow us to examine how the brain is changed by music. In this post we would like to tell you about one study we are doing that is trying to answer some of these questions. Read the rest of this entry »
They’re often left behind.
Left out of the discussion. Forgotten. Not on the stage or missing from the page. Frequently not even in the room.
I’m talking about students experiencing disability, or special education students.
In the swirling national dialogue on arts education and cognitive development, it is surprising to see how infrequently students experiencing disability are included as part of the research and discussion.
As K-12 schools everywhere are realizing that, if well implemented, inclusive classrooms can lead to better student outcomes, it is critical that the voices and talents of students experiencing disability are included. Read the rest of this entry »