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.
If you are reading this blog, I’m betting that you think an arts education is essential. After all, art is a necessary part of the human condition; we’ve been doing it since we dwelled in caves. But how do we prove that it’s necessary? How do we prove that we are doing it well?
These straightforward questions are not simple to answer. Many programs (and Sitar Arts Center where I work is one of them) understand the arts as essential because they are an ideal means to help young people on the path to a successful adulthood. We identify strongly with the emerging research and field known as positive youth development. Read the rest of this entry »
Inner-City Arts is now in its 25th year of offering high quality arts experiences to youth. Our programs include professional development for teachers, schools and university programs, school day arts programming for K-8, and out of school programming for grades 6th grade and above. These Middle and High School Institute programs have grown from offering 5 art forms for 120 students in 2009 to today offering 15 to 22 workshops three times a year, to 600-800 urban youth. Here is what some of our Institute youth say about our programming:
“They don’t judge you here… I can be my own person.” Angelica G.
“I can count on so many people here.” Sandy A.
“These people can benefit me a lot.” Gabriel U.
“I feel loved…” Michael M.
Youth in our Institutes engage in high quality arts experiences in multiple forms such as Graphic Design, Visual Arts, Ceramics, Dance and Choreography, Acting, Spoken Word, Stand-up Comedy, Animation, Digital Photography, Guitar and Documentary Film – all located on our state of the art campus in downtown Los Angeles, near Skid Row. Read the rest of this entry »
I am an Artist masquerading as an Arts Administrator – there I said it. Actually, I am a proud artist working collectively with a committed team to change lives through creative youth development. Our program, SAY Sí, recently got some positive props for being an exemplary national arts-education model that should be replicated in Something to Say, a report by the Wallace Foundation of out-of-school arts programs for tweens and teens. (By the way, please don’t use the word “tweens” in front of young people.)
Part of the reason for our success and the attention is not just the arts part, we certainly do that well – I think it is because of our assessment process and track record of accomplishments. Our youth-focused multidisciplinary arts programs: visual arts, film, performance, and (soon) game design were created not because of our interest in jumping on a funding trend (more on funding below), they were created because our youth and community told us they were needed and missing from their lives, from their city, and from their schools. Read the rest of this entry »
I am a registered card carrying bureaucrat. I don’t do passion. The job isn’t what you’re excited about; it’s what you accomplish. My staff might disagree with this self-assessment especially after summer 2014.
This past summer, in less time than any organization should be given; Big Thought implemented Dallas City of Learning, an expansion on a connected learning initiative first created in Chicago. To put it simply, the Cities of Learning initiative connects students to learning opportunities based on their burgeoning interests and the peer communities those interests created, with the goal of tying those creative experiences to academic outcomes. Student achievements are codified and recognized through digital badges that contain within their code the granular information about each accomplishment. Read the rest of this entry »
Young people have immense energy and a unique capacity to imagine, experiment, and take positive risks. But opportunities for them to develop their creativity and exercise these valuable qualities are in many cases limited.
Without opportunities to realize their own creative capacities, and thereby engage in the social and civic processes that directly affect their lives, young people are “at risk” of not realizing their own potential. And as a result our communities forgo the benefit of young people’s creativity, commitment, and leadership.
In an age of rapidly changing economic, social, technological, and environmental challenges (just to name a few), we need the talents of young people to help us innovate, renew, and build a brighter future. Read the rest of this entry »
We know what quality creative youth development (CYD) programs look like through our own work, thanks to model programs, and through publications such as Engaging Adolescents, Something to Say: Success Principles for Afterschool Arts Programs From Urban Youth and Other Experts, and The Mosaic Model for Youth Development through the Arts. So let’s just implement the principles and increase the number of young people who are benefiting from such programs.
If only it were that simple. Read the rest of this entry »
August 4, 2014 was the 180th Birthday of John Venn. If you’ve ever sat through a PowerPoint presentation, chances are you know John’s work. A Venn Diagram is a way of visually depicting the intersection of ideas, concepts or, in the case of Creative Youth Development, sectors of work.
Creative Youth Development (CYD) embodies elements and experiences from each circle of this, admittedly rudimentary, diagram because it infuses art-making into the lived experiences of young people. Creative Youth Development programs introduce the arts to as a way for them to explore the forces of their world, to imagine new possibilities, and to develop the confidence, skill, and purpose to be agents of change in their communities. Read the rest of this entry »
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the Arts Education Partnership’s annual National Forum. Aside from the connecting with arts education friends and learning tons (I mean tons!) in the sessions, I also had the opportunity to sit in on a session titled, “Fostering Student Success by Leveraging the Impact of Out of School Time, Creative Youth Development Programs.” What was great about the session was the interconnectivity of people, research and agenda from so many other national conversations which were initiated as a result of the policy and advocacy agenda produced after the first National Summit on Creative Youth Development in Boston. Read the rest of this entry »
Arts instruction has long been used as a tool for reaching English Language Learners. In fact, the origins of the children’s theatre genre lie in the Settlement Houses of Chicago in the early Twentieth Century, where Jane Addams utilized theatre and poetry to help students learn English (this tradition can be seen today in the plethora of children’s books adapted for the stage.)
There is a wealth of information available today about the usefulness of the arts for reaching multiple learning styles but there are few studies that directly link arts integration with student test scores (particularly long-term, richly collaborative integration models).
It is fitting that the week before National Arts in Education Week (September 15 – 19), The Right Brain Initiative is releasing new data that demonstrates the impact of rich classroom arts-integrated instruction on student test scores. Read the rest of this entry »
The Film Production class at Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies was busy shooting a narrative film projects this past semester with the generous help of Vans and Americans for the Arts. With our grant, we were able to hire USC Film School graduate student, Julius Robins, to facilitate workshops and demonstrations of every aspect of film production from script writing to post-production effects. Julius runs our sessions the way film classes are run at USC. Read the rest of this entry »
The “Love and Forgiveness Project” at Detroit School of Arts, a recipient of the 2014 VANS Custom Culture grant, involves a collaboration between a variety of media and disciplines. Poet and educator Suzanne Scarfone is the lead curriculum writer for the Afghan Women’s Writers Project Lessons from Afghanistan: A Curriculum for Exploring Themes of Love and Forgiveness.
Suzanne choose the poem “Small Heart” as the starting point for our collaborative project. The poem was shared with musical composer Marilyn Perkins Biery, who created a composition for soprano, chorus, piano, and flute. The full composition will be recorded by Scott Koue at Detroit School of Arts in May 2014 with students and professional musicians from the community. The audio track will be used as the score for the animation project. Read the rest of this entry »
With all the not so good news happening in the world lately – war along the Gaza Strip, new tensions flaring in Iraq, the aftermath in Afghanistan, and nationally; the racial chaos unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri along with the devastating passing of comedian and actor Robin Williams to depression and suicide – I find myself asking the question, “Are we okay?” The world could use a giant hug right now. I know I could use one.
If we’re not okay, what are some things we can do to make ourselves and our kids feel better? The combination of Arts Education with Social Service or Creative Youth Development are not necessarily partnerships we think of when it comes to the arts, but really, they are critical. We can talk all day until we’re blue in the face about the value of arts education in K-12 and higher education, arts integration, the new arts standards and common core, arts advocacy and many other reasons why we support arts education, but how often do we actually talk about the arts being a critical part of our daily physical, emotional and mental health? Read the rest of this entry »
Last week I had the privilege of attending “The Arts and Passion-Driven Learning,” a three-day institute with Harvard Project Zero. Brilliantly, the institute was presented in collaboration with The Silkroad Ensemble; after treating us to an inspired performance, Silkroad musicians joined us as facilitators and learners for the full three days. Thanks to them, the sessions prompted frank and moving conversations about rehearsal as a learning environment, how artistic risk-taking can feel like liberation and/or transgression, and how cultural differences manifest in unexpected and uncomfortable ways.
On the morning of our second day, I had an uncomfortable thought. I was attending the institute as neither a classroom teacher nor an artist, but as an arts education administrator. Understanding how to keep teachers and students engaged obviously informed my work. But I wondered – can arts administration be as “passion-driven” as teaching and learning? If I believe teachers should be given license to examine how and why they stay invested in their teaching practice, shouldn’t I do the same for my own work as an administrator? Read the rest of this entry »
…and not just because they make awesome shoes!
In addition to the Vans Custom Culture Contest the company puts on for high schools nationwide every year, they have partnered with Americans for the Arts to contribute $2,000 to ten high schools in order to further art programs that have big goals or aspirations to improve facilities for students. The Las Plumas High School (LPHS) Art Department teachers–Kandis Horton and Julie Tooker–applied for the Vans Custom Culture grant in November of 2013 in order to serve the art students of the area in a manner that would enrich their arts experience and education. Read the rest of this entry »
“Gearing Up for the Future” is a high school mural project exploring innovation from a Steam Punk perspective. Valley Academy of Arts & Sciences art students embraced the design aesthetic of the Industrial Age in their mural. This piece envisions a world where idea and innovation run free of the constraints of the past. They created a work laden with symbolic imagery (see video for slide-show of mural project) that explores the endless potential for innovation in technology, science and beyond.
VAAS students are educated to value the integration of art, science, and global collaborative thinking. VAAS is a unique school because our students choose to enroll here and have many opportunities to learn a variety of arts and sciences that go beyond their required courses for graduation and university admission. Read the rest of this entry »