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.

Jamie Foxx here, writing you to share the good news about Thunder Soul – a very special film that is close to my heart. This film is a rare gem – more than just a “must-see” it’s a “must-experience” for all ages.

I am so inspired by this movie – the true story of how one person makes a profound difference in the lives of others – that I am asking for your help to make it as successful as it is special. Most people know me as an actor, singer and comedian, but few know that none of that would’ve been possible had it not been for my Granny, Estelle Talley, who gave me the gift of music at a very young age.

It was important to Granny that I received an excellent education–which thankfully always included music. Studying instrumental music gave me discipline, skill, and creative expression. But far beyond that, having mentors, like Granny and great music teachers, believe in me from a young age laid the foundation for my success as an entertainer and, more importantly, as a person. That is the indomitable spirit at the heart of this powerful movie—and why I know you will love it. Read the rest of this entry »

Four Americans for the Arts Advisory Councils — the Arts Education Council, Emerging Leader Council, Private Sector Council, and the Public Art Network Council — are currently seeking nominations for new council members to serve three-year terms from January 1, 2012 through December 30, 2014.

Americans for the Arts asks, first and foremost, that the councils advise our staff on programs and services that will build a deeper connection to the field and their network members.

This gives council members the opportunity to be spotlighted as national leaders and to give back to the field by connecting the national work of Americans for the Arts to the local level.

Here are quotes from current leadership council members on the value of serving in that role:

“Having people from across the country serve on the council gives Americans for the Arts insight into the unique challenges we face on a day-to-day basis. It helps connect ELs at a very grassroots level by connecting networks and creates a web of resources and support for ELs.” – Ruby Harper, Emerging Leader Council Read the rest of this entry »

Ron Jones

Tomorrow is my investiture as president of Memphis College of Art. I’ve been “on the job” for about 5 months, and now it’s inauguration time. Other than a lot of pomp and circumstance, visitors from out of town, and me making a speech, is there anything really that special associated with the day?

Well, maybe there is more to this day than I first thought because without this investiture, and without making a big deal of my stepping into the position, I would not have felt the need to step back, take a look at what I am discovering, planning, and doing and try to make some sense of it all.

The truth is that this entire process from the pomp to the ceremony itself may be nothing more than a devious means of getting the person entrusted with leading the institution to pause and contextualize what’s going on.

Maybe I am wrong about the intentions, but I can tell you that in this one case it has worked effectively. I have spent hours thinking about what I should say, only to remain frustrated for weeks regarding my challenge. Read the rest of this entry »

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

Over the last few years, I’ve blogged here about our arts education advocacy efforts in San Diego with the San Diego Unified School District. I am the co-founding chair of the San Diego Alliance for Arts Education (SDAAE) which officially launched in May 2010 (although our collective grassroots advocacy work began a year earlier).

As chair of the SDAAE I have been very clear about the approach I want to take in leading the advocacy work that we do. While I believe that public comment and letter writing are important components of advocacy, I am also an evangelist for developing a working relationship with those to whom you are directing your efforts.

In this case, it’s our local school board. We have always carried the message to them that we want to be partners in supporting arts education and that we are available as a helpful resource for them. As a result, members have called when they have decisions to make or proposals to craft that they know will affect outcomes in the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Department.

Most recently, the school board asked community members to assist with what they call “Tiger Teams.” These teams are essentially efforts to get new information and an outside perspective about way that various district departments do business. Read the rest of this entry »

The ever-brilliant Sir Ken Robinson speaks about infusing creativity into all aspects of education and makes the case for a more personalized education system.

He says both would address many of the troublesome issues facing students today – high dropout rates, the narrowing of curriculum, teaching to the standardized tests, etc.

(Creativity is not an “add-on” but calls for radical change in our schools from Music Center IC on Vimeo. Find more on this topic at Good.is.)

What do you think a more personalized education system could look like and what impact do you think it would have on each student?

Jessica Wilt

In part 1 of my blog post, I started to talk about how the economy is affecting arts administrators. Specifically, how the financial and jobs crisis is weighing heavier on midcareer level individuals. Now, what we can do about it?

Here are three things I see happening today, mainly due to the economy:

#1 – Unpaid internships have now replaced what used to be the entry level job. Anyone can be an intern, no matter what age, and companies get by with more unpaid labor. Ultimately this helps with their bottom line, but in turn is destroying the pay scale. What used to be respectable manager/director pay is often times now entry level salary.

CBS Sunday Morning recently did a great story highlighting the new trend employers are quickly taking advantage of. Just get an intern! They can fix and solve all your problems…for FREE! I’ve watched job posting sites like NYFA.org and Idealist.org shift from a plethora of full-time job listings to include more internship posts.

#2 – Due to budget cuts and downsizing, full-time jobs are being given part-time titles with no benefits. Or, full-time employees are asked to take on even more responsibility with less staff, give up percentages of their pay, watch benefits disappear, and participate in work furloughs. Read the rest of this entry »

Jessica Wilt

With the national focus shifting from the financial crisis to job creation (and now, this week back to the financial crisis once more), I thought I would use my personal story as a midcareer arts administrator to help shed light on the impact the economy is having on jobs in this field.

I’m in my mid-thirties and keep asking the question, “How much longer does work have to consume my entire life before the level of financial security matches my professional accomplishments and experience?”

I’ve made great professional strides in the arts education field living in one of the most ruthless and expensive cities in the world. However, the cost and sacrifices, both financial and personal, have been significant over the past several years leaving very little to show for my efforts.

In his blog post The Twelve Attributes of a Truly Great Place to Work, CEO Tony Schwartz of the Energy Project, recently wrote:

“great employers must shift the focus from trying to get more out of people, to investing more in them by addressing their four core needs – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual – so they’re freed, fueled, and inspired to bring the best of themselves to work every day.” 

Amen Mr. Schwartz — count me in! Now, where in the arts, education, and nonprofit industries can I actually find these attributes in action? Read the rest of this entry »

Kristy Callaway

The internet gives today’s teenagers the kind of freedom that driving a car gave teens in previous generations. But unlike learning to drive a car, kids today can teach themselves to navigate the internet. Growing up in Key West in the 70′s and 80′s, I didn’t have a car or the internet. However, I quickly understood the power of networking.

The ability to seek and find people, places, and things can have as much if not more impact than mobility from automobiles. And, just as with cars, good and bad comes with the “license.” Think of the good the internet can do for the police assisting 911 callers, a parent keeping up with a teenager, or a principal searching for a truant student. Or consider the bad aspects of a crazed ex-girlfriend stalking an unknowing ex-boyfriend, or a child molester waiting for parents to leave their children unattended.

Parallel parking seems simple, but takes years to perfect, however, the gaming industry exponentially produces high concept high skill activities for your entire body that completely engage, absorb, and hypnotize players. Traveling at 80 mph in a car or online is exhilarating, scary and fast!

Recently, I met a 14-year-old entrepreneur who customizes Xbox controllers for hardcore players. He was taking a film and production graduate course alongside me to learn how to improve his editing skills in his own gaming efforts and to speed his score acceleration. He sought out this skill set; he didn’t wait for school to teach him. Read the rest of this entry »

Although written unevenly and built into a money-making machine by FOX and it’s production company over the past two years, Glee is at it’s heart a love letter to the power of music, and more general, arts education.

During the recent summer hiatus, it was rumored that cartoon-like villain Sue Sylvester (played wonderfully by Jane Lynch) would be running for Congress throughout the show’s third season. I even read that her platform was going to be anti-arts, and after last night’s season premiere, that rumor was confirmed.

After viewing some early polling numbers, Sue realized that she couldn’t just be for something (immigrant deportation), but needed to be against something in order to gain traction with potential voters. Since she spent the last three years trying to destroy the school’s glee club, it dawned on her that she could be against public funding for the arts/arts education.

As she spouted off about spending money for what we all hold so dear, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the satire, yet of course we all know that it’s a reality — particularly during a time when FEMA and even FAA funding can almost cause gridlock just a few blocks from where I sit here in D.C.

We know that the creators of the show are very much in favor of arts education and it will be interesting to see how they decide to paint Sue’s campaign (or if it even carries on past last night’s episode). I hope the writers continue to approach it with their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks, showing how ridiculous her stance is, while continuing to back up our arguments for arts education (Matthew Morrison’s Will rattled off a few stats at Sue during the episode) each week. Read the rest of this entry »

Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley

Since Tim Mikulski’s post on June 13 about the national arts standards, a lot has been happening!

On August 30, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS) convened a meeting to bring stakeholders up to speed with the revision process of the 1994 National Arts Standards.

The meeting, held at National Association for Music Education (formerly MENC) headquarters, gathered together artsed heavy hitters from all over the country: from the NCCAS leadership team, as well as representatives from organizations such as the Kennedy Center, the National Endowment of the Arts, Americans for the Arts, Wolf Trap, and more. In addition, in order to remain fully inclusive, the meeting was open to the public via live video streaming (full list of participants may be found here).

Revision Process Timeline
The meeting began with facilitator Marcia McCaffrey, arts guru from the New Hampshire Department of Education, giving a background on NCCAS and the process thus far. Marcia challenged us to consider benefits/challenges of a conceptual framework and shared the projected timeline for standards writing:

9/2011: Hiring of Project Director
11/2011: NCCAS issues guiding principles for a conceptual framework
12/2011: Standards writing teams established by NCCAS
1/2012-6/2012: Project Director manages the writing and revision of standards draft.
7/2012: Release & dissemination of draft version of revised standards document for public comment
9/2012-11/2012: NCCAS review & response to public comment; revisions made to standards by writing teams led by Project Director.
12/2012: Release of revised arts standards Read the rest of this entry »

Kristen Engebretsen

I hope that everyone has enjoyed reading the thoughts from leaders both in and outside our field during this blog salon in honor of National Arts in Education Week.

As we design and teach our youth programs, we need to keep the end in mind. Where are our students going to end up? How can we help them get there? Our schools’ guidance counselors can’t do everything—they are overburdened, have little arts content expertise, and limited interaction with each student.

That means that it is up to teachers, parents, community members, and those of us that work at arts organizations to guide our students. We need to give students real world experiences, provide them field trips to community organizations and businesses, inform them about career options, and guide them to areas where they are motivated and can excel.

During the salon, we heard examples of how this is already happening:

1)     Alyx’s story about helping students with their first job.
2)    Deutsche Bank’s collaboration with the Partnership for After School Education to create a comprehensive Youth Arts Career Guide. Read the rest of this entry »

John Abodeely

I started getting my MBA this month. Most of the individuals I know professionally have asked me why.

I’m surprised at how clear I am on why:

1.  Innovation is a product of diverse knowledge.

I figured that I’d experience greater improvement in my professional performance if I earned an education in things I know little about. Applying new and different ways of thinking, tools, and professional contacts to existing work is likely to yield huge benefits. Learning about arts education or nonprofit administration may deepen my knowledge, but it would change my work less than an MBA. Productivity experts call this “breakthrough performance.”

(Yes, I know this assumes that improvement through differences is preferable to improvement through refinement. But I believe that our field as a whole will benefit from difference more than it will from refinement. If you care to, leave comments about this distinction. It is a fascinating debate, no?)

2.  You don’t know what you don’t know. Read the rest of this entry »

Parents As Arts AdvocatesRSS Feed

Posted by Doug Israel On September - 16 - 20114 COMMENTS

In my previous post, I wrote about the value of arts education in keeping students on track to graduation—regardless of their career aspirations—and the role of parents in ensuring that principals are aware of the value of arts learning to students and the school community.

For those students who are interested in a career in the arts, one would think there is no greater place to be than in New York City. Arts-related businesses in the city generate $21 billion annually, providing over 200,000 jobs in everything from set production and theater management to video game design and advertising.

Unfortunately though, far too many of our city high schools are not providing a quality arts education, even though arts instruction is mandated by state law and we are surrounded by an incredible wealth of cultural institutions and amenities.

As part of our advocacy and public awareness efforts we work with parents in new and exciting ways to build support for the arts in schools.

Parents are helping lead advocacy workshops for other parents and school leaders, they are working with principals to encourage local elected officials to support their school arts programs, and they are helping create resources that can move others to action. Read the rest of this entry »

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

The inclusion of the dialogue between Harvey White and Sen. Stan Rosenberg at the recent Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in San Diego is a great addition to this edition of the bi-annual Arts Education Blog Salon.

As a San Diegan who has participated in meetings with White and others around the STEM to STEAM issue, I’ve often been frustrated by a lot of talk that has little to do with what can actually be done to move the needle on innovative workforce development.

We’ve had full discussions about changing curriculum and the education system, but never invited a school superintendent let alone an administrator to the meeting. I’ve heard people pass the buck and say, “Well I just come up with these ideas, and you guys need to figure out how to implement them.”

What I liked in their tete-a-tete was the businessman who cares about the issue and knows what will move other business folks to action, talking to the political official who cares about the issue and can move decisionmakers to action trying to come up with a solution together. Read the rest of this entry »

Career Clusters and the ArtsRSS Feed

Posted by Brad Hull On September - 16 - 20111 COMMENT

Brad Hull

In Narric Rome’s earlier post, he summarized a very exciting meeting that spoke to the heart of this blog salon—arts and careers.

One of his components mentioned career clusters and as a former career and technical education secondary school director, I wanted to describe this work in more detail for those unfamiliar with it, using the arts cluster as an example. (It should also be noted that the field owes much to the work of the National Association of State Directors of Career and Technical Education).

Career clusters categorize all possible careers into 16 groupings called clusters and further subdivides them into pathways. The cluster most germane to the arts is called Arts, Audio/Video Technology & Communications. Its definition and pathways can be found here.

The career clusters work created standards. There are standards necessary for every cluster (called Essential Knowledge and Skill Statements), additional standards needed that are unique to a given cluster (here is the one for the arts cluster) and standards that are necessary and unique to each pathway (here is one for the performing arts). 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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