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.

Max Donner

Los Angeles took a cue from the success of Art Miami and scheduled six art shows in the space of one week last month. These six shows featured the most popular collecting categories–fine art, photography, prints and posters, modern art, contemporary art, and “affordable art.”

A fortunate coincidence put these excellent art exhibitions directly next to two large commercial trade shows that demonstrated the value of artistic talent in America’s economy. These were the California Gift Show and the Insignia Sportswear Show.

These shows provided hundreds of examples of the economic value of art by showing how quality art and design can transform a five dollar piece of canvas into a fifty dollar giclee print or a five hundred dollar oilskin for elite yacht racing syndicates.

The commercial trade shows also demonstrated the important role that applied art plays in supporting the development of leading edge technology and the creation of good jobs that support local economies.

An overview of the exhibitions at the California Gift Show and the Insignia Sportswear Show quickly showed that commodity-like, undecorated consumer goods like umbrellas, picture frames, sports team uniforms, and caps do not cost much to make and do not generate much quality employment. The same products converted into upscale or luxury consumer products with original art and sophisticated artistic customization command attention of trade show visitors and quickly fill order books. Read the rest of this entry »

The STEAM Camps Are ComingRSS Feed

Posted by John Eger On January - 30 - 20122 COMMENTS

John Eger

It’s early in the new year but educators across the country are already making plans for the summer and they are thinking STEAM…with the arts playing a critical role.

As demand for a new workforce to meet the challenges of a global knowledge economy is rapidly increasing, few things could be as important in this period of our nation’s history than an interdisciplinary education that brings the arts and sciences together. Not surprisingly, so-called STEAM Camps signal an increased role for the arts as part of the new curriculum.

Most analysts studying the new global economy agree that the growing “creative and innovative” economy represents America’s salvation. The STEAM camps represent a totally new approach to the curriculum, and forge a new beginning in reinventing K-12 education.

Urban Discovery Academy, a charter school in San Diego has partnered with the University of California at San Diego (UCSD); Concordia University in Mequon, WI, together with the Chicago Lutheran Education Foundation (CELF); and the largest Lutheran school systems in Northern Indiana, and other educational organizations across the country are thinking about or have already started hosting STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Camps to jumpstart education learning for the new economy.

STEAM is a direct response to STEM, the Bush Initiative called the America Competes Act, which authorized funds to help students earn a bachelor’s degree, math and science teachers to get teaching credentials, and provide additional money to help align K-12 math and science curricula to better prepare students for college. Read the rest of this entry »

The Art Institutes and Americans for the Arts are accepting entries for our 2012 Poster Design Competition through February 3. Winners will earn up to a full tuition scholarship to study at one of the more than 45 Art Institutes across the country.

This year’s competition challenges high school seniors and graduates from the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico to design a poster that best expresses the competition’s new theme, “You Can Create Tomorrow.” Contestants will compete in two different categories: high school senior or high school graduate/adult.

For more information, visit this website.

See how winning past contests has impacted the lives of these students:

Kristen Engebretsen

Our patchwork approach to providing arts education has gotta stop!

I recently read an article about a school that won a $25,000 contest by HGTV to redesign their arts room, and it actually left me upset. Why, you ask?

The short answer? I’m tired of the band-aid approach. The stop gap measures.

It’s the same reason I had to stop watching Oprah’s Favorite Things and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. For every deserving person that is honored on these shows, I know someone who is just as needy and just as deserving.

As I watched the following video about makeovers, I couldn’t help but wonder if that money could be put to better use:

What would I do with $25,000? Read the rest of this entry »

Jessica Wilt

As an arts administrator, I’m constantly bombarded with information coming from all directions every minute of every day.

With endless emails, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, and RSS feeds, I sometimes feel a little overwhelmed.

Having the “let’s get organized!” attitude that a New Year brings, I thought it might be nice to highlight some of the good work our colleagues are doing in the field with a condensed resource guide.

Which makes me wonder: Has anyone designed an app for this yet?

Arts Education Listservs: Two of my favorites are Kristen Engrebretson’s Arts Education Roundup from Americans for the Arts (an exclusive benefit of membership – join here or ask to be added to the arts education listserv if you are a member), and Arts Education Partnership’s ArtsEd Digest. The Center for Arts Education, Education Week, and Public Education Network’s weekly NewsBlast are also great sources of information.

Blogs:  It seems everyone is writing a blog these days! Who should we be reading? Americans for the Arts’ ARTSBlog and Artsjournal.com are terrific resources. Richard Kessler’s Dewey21C and Art Education 2.0 are good ones too. Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Mikulski

I hate that I have to write this sentence yet again, but I don’t think I can start this entry without stating the very obvious point…

Arts education continues to face budget battles in school districts across the country due to the sagging economy, failing revenue models, and just plain ignorance to the value of music, visual art, dance, and theater to students.

In a recent post, I discussed the use of hyperlocal journalism sites like Patch.com and local blogs to get the word out about your local programs, but just as valuable can be a good old-fashioned protest, utilizing the talent of the students to get the attention of those types of websites, as well as your friends in the local news media.

Here is a great example of a local news report in Ohio:

Read the rest of this entry »

Rob Schultz

As the population of the United States matures in the 21st Century, data shows that there are as many people over age 65 as are under age 20.

To respond to this demographic shift, the Mesa Arts Center initiated an important pilot program to reach an underserved population of seniors, and early results are very promising!

The center enlisted the services of two marvelous local teaching artists, Tessa Windt (fibers), and Elizabeth Johnson (dance), to work directly with seniors at three Mesa facilities as part of the Creative Aging Program. The goal of the program is simple: uplift individual creative expression in older adults through movement, story, dance, and engagement in art making.

We’re excited that we’ve not only met our goal, but also impacted this special population in meaningful ways and we’re ready to make this program a permanent part of our services to the community.

Beginning with a curriculum map, staff and the artists developed program outcomes, a learning plan, and assessment evidence for the eight-week project. Elizabeth Johnson worked with a group of seniors at an independent-living facility. She quickly found their level of engagement to be unexpectedly high, with people practicing their movements between workshop sessions, and many seniors insisting that they teach Elizabeth about the music and dance of “their” era.  Read the rest of this entry »

Deb Vaughn

Deb Vaughn

While facilitating a panel recently, the need for one-on-one attention to help students achieve their personal goals came up.

This got me thinking about IEP’s (Individualized Education Programs). An IEP is developed to meet the unique educational needs of an individual student who may have a disability.

Here’s my thought: Don’t we all need an IEP?

I don’t mean to downplay the critical importance of IEP’s for students with disabilities (in fact, IEP’s are mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act), but to acknowledge that what works for one student, regardless of their disability status, may not work for the next.

We all have unique educational needs.

As an adult, I fill out a yearly self-evaluation, detailing my goals for the next year and my plan to achieve them. I work closely with my supervisor to make sure I include her feedback, but my self-knowledge is the driving factor in developing the plan. Together, we create an IEP for my professional development. At the end of the year, I identify areas that need continued improvement and go forward from there.

Isn’t this the kind of reflective goal-setting that encourages students to take responsibility for their education? Read the rest of this entry »

Brian Cohen

Brian D. Cohen

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” (Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics).

The educational model of learning by doing is nowhere better exemplified than in arts education. Teachers in every discipline increasingly recognize the value of not only what students know, but what they do with what they know.

Educators are talking a lot about assessment these days, but education is too complex an enterprise to measure in one dimension. Measurement in education is too often instantaneous and linear; a momentary capture of what we already know we’re looking for. At one moment, a student shows that he or she knows a certain amount about one thing, and then the class moves on.

Say you’re learning about cell division.

Your class takes a week to study it, at the end of which you have a test. You get 36 of 50 right and you get a C – and you may never learn why you got 14 wrong or how to get them all right. And, by the way, you learn that you’re bad at science (which nobody told you involves observation and experimentation – just like art).  Read the rest of this entry »

Happy New Year 2012

In 2012, Americans for the Arts resolves to invigorate political discourse and the nation by continuing to spotlight the importance of the arts in America. Artists, teachers, arts managers and professionals, lawmakers, administrators, and advocates are integral to this mission.

This election year, the urgency is growing to have political candidates and office holders understand how arts are vital to our communities. We ask that you make your own resolutions this year by responding to this question:

How can the arts energize the political dialogue in your community this election year?

Here are some insightful responses to get you thinking. Add yours in the comments below! Read the rest of this entry »

Stephanie Riven

Perhaps you have been following David Brooks’ series of op-eds in The New York Times. He asked people over 70 to send him “Life Reports” — essays about their own lives and what they’d done poorly and well.

No need to wait until we turn 70 to reflect on these “life lessons” and devise our own, especially as we approach the time for New Year’s resolutions.

Formulating lessons are important for all of us who work in the arts, whether as a performer, an administrator, an advocate, or an educator. These lessons are especially important because of the nature of our field — low wages, long hours, competition for jobs, among other obvious challenges.

What can we learn from Brooks and those who submitted “Life Reports?”

Divide your life into chapters: Brooks talks about “the happiest of his correspondents being those that divided time into (somewhat artificial) phases.” He describes these people as those who could see time as “something divisible into chunks” and they could more easily stop and self-appraise. This approach, he says, “gave them more control over their lives.” Read the rest of this entry »

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the final budget agreement for FY 2012, which includes $146.255 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

On Saturday morning, the same bill passed the U.S. Senate and moves to the desk of President Obama for his signature.

The $146,255 million appropriation is identical to President Obama’s proposed budget, a cut of nearly $9 million from FY 2011, and is a compromise between the House of Representatives number of $135 million and the Senate number of $155 million as previously considered by their respective subcommittees.

Also included in this bill is $24.596 million in funding for the Arts in Education programs at the U.S. Department of Education, which had been zeroed-out in a previous proposal in the House.
Read the rest of this entry »

Mary-Helen Rossi

Anyone with their eyes open today can’t help but wonder if those “gloom and doomers” might at least be partly right — should we be worried for our organizations’ survival?

And if so, with many arts organizations closing their doors, what we do to keep ours open?


For decades now, arts programs have gotten funded based on their case studies (we all have terrific stories, don’t we?) and assertions as to the benefits of the arts. And why not? Those benefits are real, and incredibly valuable. But case studies and avowals aren’t exactly tangible and they just aren’t cutting it any more.


Let’s face it — human beings do not like to change, but I’m not willing to bet I’ll be okay if I don’t, are you?

Well then, how can we change — what’s the direction to head in? Read the rest of this entry »

The Storyline ProjectRSS Feed

Posted by Maggie Guggenheimer On December - 9 - 2011ADD COMMENTS

The Storyline Project is a great example of effective and inexpensive collaboration with valuable community outcomes.

Launched in summer 2009, the project had roots in an impromptu collaborative effort from the previous year. Charlottesville Parks & Recreation came to Piedmont Council for the Arts (PCA) for help painting a school bus to transport youth to recreation centers around town. Aware of our limited capacity, we reached out to another nonprofit, The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, for help.

Though similarly small, The Bridge had experience working with local artists on public art projects. With their expertise, PCA’s commitment to managing the project, and our shared enthusiasm for the possibilities, a new partnership was born.

Together, we coordinated a team of local artists and Parks & Rec summer camp students for the exciting challenge of painting what became known as the Fun Bus. Read the rest of this entry »

Alyx Kellington

Alyx Kellington

How many languages are spoken in your local school district?

Chances are most of us will be surprised at the number and varieties of languages the students speak and probably do not know how to reach out to that community.

Currently, the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, is the 11th largest in the continental U.S. with 187 schools, serving over 174,000 (K-12) students who speak 141 languages/dialects. So how can you advertise your event to a native Kanjoval speaker?

Many school districts have a multicultural department and that in turn, may offer a Community Language Facilitator (CLF). In Palm Beach County, each school provides one CLF for every 15 students who speak a common language.

If your organization or program can go the extra mile and create a reference, lesson plan, or curriculum-based activity for the multicultural audience, you may find cultural and translation assistance available from the school district.  Read the rest of this entry »

Why Ask For More?
Just like kids need to have good nutrition on a daily basis, kids need to have their daily serving of the arts. Chances are, though, that your kids are not getting enough art—in or out of school. The arts are much more than just fun "extra" activities for kids. Studies have shown the far-reaching benefits of an arts education. Visit The Arts. Ask for More. Public Awareness Campaign Website.


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