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.
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 »
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.
TIME FOR A CHANGE?
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 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.
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 »
Declaring October as National Art and Humanities Month, President Obama made the observation:
“Educators across our country are opening young minds, fostering innovation, and developing imaginations through arts education. Through their work, they are empowering our Nation’s students with the ability to meet the challenges of a global marketplace. It is a well-rounded education for our children that will fuel our efforts to lead in a new economy where critical and creative thinking will be the keys to success.”
More and more people in high places seem to be saying the right thing. Last April, Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, said: “The Arts can no longer be treated as a frill. Arts education is essential to stimulating the creativity and innovation that will prove critical for young Americans competing in a global economy.”
But we have seen too little in the way of action.
Is this because the administration really doesn’t believe what they say about the arts? Because Washington, D.C. can’t get anything done? Or because the benefits are still not obvious to most politicians. Read the rest of this entry »
Last month, I wrote a post that described the work of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee on a bill reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, last authorized as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002.
Since that time, we have gathered new information through further examination of the bill text and through meetings with congressional staff.
It is unclear if there will be time for the bill to receive Senate floor consideration and additional amendments before Congress adjourns for the year, but this new information will still have an effect on the reauthorization movement:
Well Rounded Education Amendment
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), along with co-sponsors Senators Murray (D-WA), Mikulski (D-MD), and Merkley (D-OR), introduced the Well Rounded Education Amendment which was approved by voice vote. While the amendment shares similar objectives to the Obama Administration “Blueprint” proposal — it is significantly different than that proposal in structure and effect.
The Senate language creates a single grant program through which states (with partners) can compete for funding to provide support to: arts, civics and government, economics, environmental education, financial literacy, foreign languages, geography, health education, history, physical education, and social studies. Read the rest of this entry »
Look over to the right side of this page and check out the tag cloud. (You might have to scroll a little. It’s under the “featured video”.) Are your favorite topics there?
We want to match the content of our publications with what you need to be successful artists, arts administrators, advocates, and educators. That means tailoring the articles, blog posts, and news stories in our print and electronic communications based on your feedback. What topics do you want to read about more (or less)?
You see more and more reports indicating that creativity is a critical issue facing our world — and that there is a serious lack of it throughout the business environment.
No wonder we celebrate and even venerate the life of Steve Jobs because he demonstrated a heart and soul connection to his personal creativity that we don’t see too many other places, and many of us feel is missing within our own lives.
So — you would think with all of this concern about our ‘creative capital’ we would be increasing our commitment to arts education, not pulling further away from it, right? What is wrong with this picture?
I think we have both a communication issue as well as an outcomes issue.
First, the communication issue is that despite decades of research showing the positive personal and academic impact of arts education, we haven’t moved the needle in terms of school curriculum strategy, educational budgets, or civic and corporate commitment. So, let’s stop using the same language because no one has been seriously listening for years. Read the rest of this entry »
At the end of August, when the staff at COCA (Center of Creative Arts) in St. Louis, MO, is typically enjoying a rare moment to breathe — between the end of a busy summer of arts camps and before the dance, theatre. and visual arts students return for fall classes — we were in high gear hosting an unlikely population of arts participants.
COCA’s new program, COCAbiz, was hosting its first Business Creativity Conference “Play @ Work,” which attracted the likes of Boeing engineers, architects from Cannon Design, and Nestlé Purina and Anheuser-Busch executives.
Accountants, marketing professionals, entrepreneurs, and business managers from St. Louis’ top companies listened to nationally regarded speakers on innovation and rubbed shoulders in arts-based learning sessions.
After more than twenty years of focusing almost exclusively on students with a penchant for dance, theatre, or the visual arts — for arts’ sake — we at COCA have come to understand that developing skills through the arts, using the arts as the vehicle to learn the lesson, instead of just as the lesson itself, is the key to our relevance, sustainability, and impact. Read the rest of this entry »
As an arts-based practitioner I have participated in events sponsored and promoted by The Arts and Business Councils of both New York City and Chicago.
Over the past decade these civic organizations have partnered with interested corporations like Metropolitan Life and McGraw Hill to present examples of arts-based learning for business that were open to the public.
The impact was palpable especially in the nature of questions asked by participants in the Q&A portion of the program.
People immediately grasped the relevance. They asked questions about trust, ambiguity, autonomy and empathy- all aspects that fall outside the “dehydrated language” (thank you Nancy Adler) of the corporate boardroom culture. Read the rest of this entry »
“It’s déjà vu all over again.” I stumbled across a speech I gave to a Rotary Club in 1998 on why business should support arts education. Here’s a condensed version. Twenty years later, same arguments apply and the situation is worse for workers and arts in education.
For many years, American business got what it wanted from schools; people suited to work in factories or, more commonly in our area, people suited to work the land.
Over the past two decades, however, business has changed drastically from an industrial to an information orientation with fierce global competition. Today, a skilled, creative workforce is key to competitive success.
What the business community of the 21st century needs for success and what the arts have to offer in educating the workforce are these five things: (there are really more than five but…)
Excellence Read the rest of this entry »
A few years ago, The Conference Board, an international non-profit business research organization, released Ready to Innovate, a study that unequivocally says, “U.S. employers rate creativity and innovation among the top five skills that will increase in importance over the next five years, and rank it among the top challenges facing CEOs.”
But as The Conference Board cautioned, “educators and executives must be aligned” and that is happening much too slowly. I think what the study was suggesting was that somebody has to take the lead.
So who’s going to align the educators and the executives and how? Where is the leadership?
The problem, I fear, is with businessmen and women…and with the educators, and the artists too, who are best suited to play the lead.
John Hagel III, co-author, along with John Seely Brown, of The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion, made a rather telling observation that business recruiters are always looking for creative people. Then noted that they look again at these creative people on their “exit interview.” So be it for too many corporations. Read the rest of this entry »
When I first stepped into my position as Director of Educational Programming at Pentacle last August 2010, our organization was deep in the throws of planning our first year of Celebration partnering with Youth, I.N.C., an incredible organization working “to improve the lives of youth through a unique venture philanthropy model that empowers, develops, and educates nonprofit organizations serving young people.”
Founded by Steve Orr back in 1994, a former Wall Street dude and co-founder of his own consulting firm Orr Associates, Inc. (OAI); he saw the critical need for infrastructure support for New York City’s youth organizations. Since its’ creation, Steve has helped raise over $37 million for NYC youth!
How do they do it?
“By applying best practices from the corporate and nonprofit sectors we empower our partner nonprofits with the tools to achieve sustainable growth.”
It’s a multi-layered board structure at Youth, I.N.C. which includes a formal Board of Directors (governs the organization, providing financial oversight and strategic direction); the Consulting Advisory Board (recruits corporate professionals to serve on the boards of our nonprofit partners); the Sustaining Board (designed to leverage the experiences, insight, and expertise of former board members still committed to building and investing in the future of Youth, I.N.C.); and the Young Professionals Committee (organizes fundraising events, learning opportunities, and volunteer projects for young professionals). Read the rest of this entry »
We spend a lot of time in the arts talking about “thinking outside the box.” It’s what we do, and it’s our catchphrase, more so than in any other profession.
When businessmen and politicians talk about this type of thinking, we tend to scoff at them – after all, we are the real creative thinkers, right?
But sometimes we create a box within a box in our own thinking. And while we gladly and proudly venture outside of our inner box, finding new ways to present our own artistic work, we sometimes get trapped inside that outer box. It’s time to do more “outside the box surrounding the box” thinking.
What does that mean? Well, look at it this way – while we tend to be innovative within our own discipline, sometimes we hesitate to venture beyond our comfort zone.
I’m talking about collaboration – specifically, collaboration with other art forms. It’s a little frightening to consider at first. I remember a very tense lunch over the summer with a director who wanted to be in control of every element of a production that I was involved in – so much so that there was a flow chart produced at the table that show the director as the “CEO” of the show. The give and take of control over a production, be it musical theater, ballet, opera, or a collaborative exhibition, is a frightening concept. Read the rest of this entry »