Stephanie Evans

There has been a lot of talk about the creative economy coming out of Washington, DC, lately—from the NEA’s recent panel discussion last week on Creative Placemaking, to the Center for American Progress’ panel which discussed The Creative Economy:  How to Keep the Fuel of Creation and Innovation Burning (If you have an hour and a half, I highly recommend watching the video of this panel). Also last week, Partners for Livable Communities hosted a forum on Building Livable Communities:  Creating a Common Agenda. 

I was lucky to have snagged a seat at the sold-out and standing-room-only Center for American Progress Creative Economy panel, which took place on September 21. There were some key takeaways and important points that are worth repeating and sharing.

It’s also interesting that within the span of less than two weeks, three separate organizations (a federal government agency, a progressive think tank, and a national nonprofit) felt it important to invest the time and energy into the topics of creative economy and livability. I believe this is a reflection of the years of hard work and advocacy put in by many artists, arts administrators, advocates, journalists, and citizens who have pushed to get arts and culture to the center of the discussion around how we can begin to solve the economic and social challenges that are plaguing our country.  It’s uplifting to note that in some corners of our world (and U.S. government) that there are those who “get it.” Read the rest of this entry »

Tagged with: |

Happy Birthday, NEA!

Posted by Tim Mikulski On September - 29 - 2010No comments yet

Lyndon Johnson signs into law the act that created the NEA

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts as on September 29, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the law that created the cultural agency.  

 Here is a list of facts regarding the Endowment that they provided in honor of the event. For more information, visit

A compendium of statistics on the National Endowment for the Arts on the occasion of its 45th Birthday

September 29, 2010

Total dollar amount of NEA grants awarded to nonprofit organizations
in 45-year history: $4 billion (>130,000 grants)i

Economic activity generated by the nonprofit arts sector Ueach yearU: $166 billionii

Number of cities participating in NEA’s Mayor’s Institutes on City Design since 1986: 600iii

Average ratio of matching funds to NEA awards: 7:1iv

Rate at which arts participants volunteer compared to non-participants: 2:1v

Languages translated into English through NEA Literature Translation Fellowships:  61vi Read the rest of this entry »

Each year when we announce the opportunity to nominate yourself or a colleague to serve on an Americans for the Arts advisory council, the staff liaisons to those councils tend to get a wide variety of great questions from the field.  Questions such as:

  • Do I have to be a member of Americans for the Arts to be on a council? Answer:  Yes
  • How large are your councils?  Answer:  15 members
  • What time commitment is expected from council members?  Answer:  Click Here
  • If I’m elected to an advisory council, can I tell Bob Lynch what to do?  Answer:  No (okay, just kidding, we’ve never received that question)

A question we rarely get, and would love to answer, is:  Why should I nominate myself or someone else for an advisory council?  Here are a few thoughts to consider if you’re contemplating this opportunity:

  • Community Leadership

Being on a national council is a great way to be able to provide resources and in depth knowledge to your community.  Americans for the Arts council members work on issues that affect the field as a whole.  This work can help spark ideas for solutions that you can bring back to your own organizations and communities.   Read the rest of this entry »

As part of NBC News’ Education Nation initiative, Today Show host Matt Lauer is interviewing President Obama about the state of education on Monday morning, 9/27, and you have the opportunity to submit questions via the Education Nation website.  ARTSblog has featured a number of arts events that President Obama’s administration has been involved in or hosted at the White House, including hosting the Kennedy Center Honors recipients, welcoming country music artists and music students, and honoring the Coming Up Taller awards recipients.  Now’s our chance to ask the President a question about arts education.

It was suggested that instead of having all arts and arts education supporters asking different questions regarding arts education, we should all ask the same question in order to help make our topic stand out to those selecting them. The question our arts education community came up with is:

“Both your administration and your own family have been very supportive of arts education, yet with the budget cuts that are taking place at the local level and testing focused on reading and math – how do you feel the Obama Administration can better support high-quality arts education in America?”

Feel free to copy and paste this question into the submission form and to ask your own individual questions as well. If any arts education questions are asked and answered, we’ll be sure to let you know.

Alison Schwartz

I wonder what makes a product, a store, an experience, an artwork a HIT. I am particularly curious about how certain products make it big when they aren’t playing by the rules.

Why is Target a beloved low-price big box store when most big box retailers are demonized for displacing the business of mom-and-pop shops?

Why is In-N-Out Burger a revered fast-food chain when fast food is unhealthy?

How is Blue Man Group still selling out performances with anonymous performers who don’t talk? Without a celebrity to anchor the show (such as Tony winners Scarlett Johansson and Denzel Washington), why should anyone pay attention?

While I am no branding expert, here are a few possible answers. Read the rest of this entry »

Salina Arts and Humanities Commission in Salina, Kansas used AEP III to let people know the impact of arts on their local economy

Arts advocates don’t want to talk about jobs and tax revenue.  We want to talk about the fundamental value of the arts…how they foster beauty, creativity, originality, and vitality…how they inspire us, soothe us, provoke us, involve us, and connect us.  But elected officials want to hear about how the arts and culture create jobs and contribute to the economy.

The deadline to join our fourth national economic impact study, Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, is quickly approaching.  Don’t miss this opportunity to participate in the most comprehensive study of the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture ever conducted.  In our Arts and Economic Prosperity III report, over 150 communities and regions participated in the studies, which continue to be among the most frequently cited statistics used to demonstrate the impact of the nation’s nonprofit arts industry on the local, state, and national economy.

The City of Seattle Office of Cultural Affairs, who participated in this most recently completed national economic impact study, provides the perfect example of what this report can provide.  The results were published in June 2007.  Here’s what happened next: Read the rest of this entry »

Tagged with: | |

Michelle Dean

As cited in the Green Pages: Does the intense federal focus on “evidence-based” practices results in a premature dismissal or disregard for therapeutic practices that are beneficial to many populations?

Let’s face it, value placed on evidence-based practices is not just because of federal funding but a cultural bias that values scientific method, in an attempt “to prove” or “validate” what is real. The economic origins of this long-standing bias are beyond the scope of this blog but none-the-less the question remains: How does art therapy fit in this model?  Well, not so well due to its very symbolic nature.  And why should it?

Although there have been great efforts to promote and conduct evidence based treatment (EBT) and research in art therapy, it may be said that art therapy (or any therapeutic relationship for that matter) is a symbolic process, which is embedded in a relation-based therapeutic practice. So when symbols or people in a relationship are taken out of context they lose their meaning. For example, it would be like taking two people in love and removing one person in the couple and plopping them down with someone else and expecting the same amorous feelings – this is clearly absurd.  Sociologist, Durkheim discusses the advantages of being in a relationship as a reduced risk factor to suicide. However, when an art therapist is actually working with a patient, the statistical risk factor is far less important than the qualities and meaning of the relationship. And it is those relationship qualities that are so elusive to measure.  Elkins debunks the validity of empirically supported treatments, by uncovering the insidious economic gains for the insurance and pharmaceutical companies. And Seife points out, in his soon to be released text, Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception, “Our society is now awash in proofiness. Using a few powerful techniques, thousands of people are crafting mathematical falsehoods to get you to swallow untruths”. Who is to say that what is being conveyed by the statistics of EBT are even measuring what they are claiming? Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Mikulski

On behalf of Americans for the Arts, I would like to thank all of our readers for stopping by to celebrate Arts in Education Week by reading all the posts of our fantastic bloggers throughout the week. Having organized two of these events now, I can say that the content is just getting better and better.

Here is just a sample of all of the topics covered by our intrepid bloggers this time around: national standards; research; technology & pedagogy; collaboration; assessment; innovation; advocacy; school districts/leadership; and reform.

But to put things into the complete perspective, I copied and pasted all of the blog posts into a word cloud website and came up with the words that were used the most in all of the posts (and unlike Wordle, Tagxedo even lets you pick the shape of your cloud).

The results showed that the words most often used in the posts were arts, education, school, programs, learning, students, teachers, and assessment.

To view the entire cloud, visit

However, our job isn’t over. Not by a long shot. Read the rest of this entry »

Jim Palmerini

Enough pondering. On with our Arts Education Week party. To wit, let’s celebrate:

  • Students first, last, and always as learners, advocates, and our guides to the future.
  • Student learning in the arts that gives ownership and choice and therefore empowerment.
  • Training programs for arts educators that embrace changing modes of learning, new technology, and other tools that teachers and students need to succeed in the twenty-first century.
  • Seminars, workshops, and breakout sessions that always remember to add students to the butcher block paper checklist of stakeholders.
  • Arts space architects and builders that understand the need for facilities to be safe, and simultaneously messy and orderly enough for creativity to thrive.
  • Initiatives like the P21 Arts Framework that suggest the learning of skills beyond the arts discipline while supporting the core content of the domain itself.
  • Thoughtful advocates who recognize there is no single strategy to “make the case” for an arts program before school boards, legislators, administrators, or parents.
  • Collaborating arts educators who work to integrate the arts with other core subject areas in order to deepen their own and students’ understanding of the world we live in. Read the rest of this entry »

Kim Dabbs

I joined our organization, Michigan Youth Arts four years ago.  When I stepped through the door, our organization was known best for the Michigan Youth Arts Festival, a comprehensive arts spectacular, culminating a nine-month search for the finest artistic talent in Michigan high schools. More than 250,000 students across the state are involved in the adjudication process that results in nearly 1,000 being invited to participate in the annual three-day event, held in May. It is here that these exceptional students in the arts gather together to explore, celebrate, and showcase their talent in multiple disciplines.  

This organization was built on collaboration. 

The 15 statewide arts education organizations consistently work together to provide this opportunity for students in Michigan for nearly 50 years now. When I would be asked if our organization collaborated, I could confidently answer, “YES!”

But was that enough? Was having collaboration be the rule in our organization enough for us to be highly effective and efficient and serve our constituents throughout the state? Read the rest of this entry »

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

I recently wrote a post for the California Alliance for Arts Education (CAAE) blog about What I Did on My Summer Vacation. My thesis there and here is that arts education advocacy doesn’t take a holiday just because the students do.

On a warm summer afternoon in July, I received an email from CAAE Policy Director Joe Landon about State Assembly Bill 2446 going from the Education Committee to the Senate Appropriations Committee. In a nutshell, if enacted, AB2446 would undermine access to arts education courses by allowing students to substitute Career Technical Education (CTEC) courses for current requirements in visual and performing arts or foreign language.

Up to this point, the CAAE had worked diligently to help policymakers understand that although trying to boost graduation rates by making it easier for students to meet the requirements with CTEC credits makes sense, using it as a replacement for arts education is not the answer. All the letter writing and testimony couldn’t make them change their minds and it was headed Appropriations.

Back to the early afternoon email from Joe. Read the rest of this entry »

Mark Slavkin

Arts for All: the Los Angeles County Regional Blueprint for Arts Education is working to strengthen arts education in the 81 school districts in our county. These districts enroll 1.7 million K-12 students - more than many states. The effort is “housed” at the County Arts Commission, with essential leadership from the County Office of Education and other key stakeholders.  None of this would be possible without the remarkable support of our Board of Supervisors.

As part of this effort, I was pleased to work with a retired superintendent, Ira Toibin, to produce a “Leadership Fellows” program for the superintendent, assistant superintendent for instruction, and arts coordinator from five of the participating school districts. We met over the course of a school year as a whole group, in job-alike sessions, and in site visits to each district. This work was made possible in part through a generous grant from the Wallace Foundation.

I want to share some of the lessons learned to help inform future advocacy at the school district level, as opposed to the school site or classroom. Read the rest of this entry »

Barry Shauck

Having a rigorous, stable, strong, sequential education in the arts just might be nationally valued as a fundamental right of all students in our democratic society if we move our advocacy efforts from addressing the broad value of programs, to telling stories about the developmental benefits for students who are engaged in learning languages of expression that are grounded in aural notation, movement, re-presentation, and the visual arts.

One of the factors that impacts our public dialogue about the role of the arts in American public schooling is deciding what is to be provided as a given public right and what is to be set aside as a private option. We enjoy the freedom of local jurisdiction, and we suffer the inconsistencies of arts programs delivery across the country, in part, as a result.

One method for linking the arts in America to public purposes for improvement of our democracy might be to ground studio teaching approaches for aesthetic and arts education to the development and life of the student. The visual arts contribute to the public democratic purpose of prosperity (Wyszomirski, 2000) far beyond the perceived contributions of work cast as the contributions of non-profit industries. Everyday, in America’s schools, the best arts teachers practice a child-centered philosophy of self-discovery that educates for a vision of tomorrow and seeks to develop a consciousness of aesthetic form. Theirs is a philosophy that uses self-knowledge as the basis for building human relationships through art. Read the rest of this entry »

Jim Palmarini

In my last post, I detailed my thoughts about the need for arts advocates reconsider the work we do, the challenge of fitting the best arts experiences into an already full school day, the rising predominance of makeshift afterschool programs, and the proverbial elephant in the room—the “art for arts sake” versus the social-workforce strategy for “making the case.” 

On the latter, no matter which side of the hill you’re pushing your boulder up, at the end of the day, what we have not been able to do is shift the thinking of the great majority of citizens in this country from the notion that arts education is “a good thing” to demanding that it be an absolute priority. To me, this is one of our greatest challenges. And I’m willing to use any argument that will work to overcome it. The idea that the strategy for doing so has to be one approach or another is, in itself, a tired argument. 

Our other and equally important challenge is trying to make sure that the greatest number of children really receives the good stuff in their arts lunchbox—quality art experiences that will pique their interest to learn more, and set them on a path, fully engaged and invested in artistic engagement as a fundamental and integral part of their daily lives. In that regard, Mark Baurelein (Advocating for Arts in the Classroom), is absolutely on target: the arts need to be regarded as a discrete academic discipline with vetted, recognized, and assessable content, taught by trained and certified educators. That demands high standards, which is why I’m so encouraged by states like Colorado, New Jersey, Florida and others, where the arts standards have been rewritten to better reflect the rigorous curricula being taught by the state’s educators. Read the rest of this entry »

Taking Credit for Measuring Up

Posted by Heather Noonan On September - 16 - 20101 COMMENT

Heather Noonan

CD-ROMs are hardly considered cutting edge technology today, but back in 1998 they were still something of a novelty.  So it was considered pretty big news when the 1997 National Assessment of Educational Progress in the Arts (NAEP) was released that year by the U.S. Department of Education in hard-bound format, online, and on disc.  This breakthrough was necessitated by the advanced nature of the assessment itself, which went beyond fill-in-the-bubble measurements to include performance-based assessment of student knowledge and skills in the arts.  In addition to thumbing through pages of data analysis for the 1998 arts NAEP, readers could also view sample student work. 

As arts education advocates, we should reach back to this moment in time more than a decade ago and remind ourselves and policy leaders how much the arts have to offer in the current education reform discussions regarding assessment of student learning.  The 1997 NAEP was not just the most comprehensive assessment in the arts (far more robust that the 2008 assessment that followed) – the performance-based measures and reporting set a new standard for national assessments of other core academic subjects to follow. Read the rest of this entry »

ARTSblog holds week-long Blog Salons, a series of posts by guest bloggers, that focus on an overarching theme within a core area of Americans for the Arts' work. Here are links to the most recent Salons:

Arts Education

Teaching Artists

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

Charting the Future of the Arts

Taking Communities to the Next Level

New Methods & Models

Public Art

Best Practices


Arts Marketing

Audience Engagement

Winning Audiences

Powered by Community

Animating Democracy

Arts & the Military

Scaling Up Programs & Projects

Social Impact & Evaluation

Humor & Social Change

Private Sector Initatives

Arts & Business Partnerships

Business Models in the Arts

Local Arts Agencies

Cultural Districts

Economic Development

Trends, Collaborations & Audiences

Art in Rural Communities

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.