By Heather Noonan, Vice President for Advocacy for the League of American Orchestras and Co-Chair of the ad-hoc National Arts Education Policy Working Group

How will the next version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) support access to the arts as part of a well-rounded education for every child? This month the Administration, Congress, and arts education advocates have advanced the conversation. Now is a critical time for arts advocates to engage in the real heart of the debate.

Speaking before the national Arts Education Partnership forum on April 9, US. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivered his view, declaring that the arts “can no longer be treated as a frill,” and reported that, during his national listening tour, “almost everywhere I went, I heard people express concern that the curriculum has narrowed, especially in schools that serve disproportionate numbers of disadvantaged students.”

The March 13 Obama Administration blueprint for re-writing ESEA lays out the Department’s view on federal education policy. Three areas of the blueprint emerged in Duncan’s remarks:

  • Proposals would allow states to incorporate assessments of subjects beyond English, language arts and math in their accountability systems.
  • The current Arts in Education funding program would be merged with other funding areas so that districts, states, and non-profits would apply for competitive grants to support the arts among other eligible non-tested core academic subjects of learning.
  • New resources for afterschool and extended day learning could open the door for support for arts education. Read the rest of this entry »

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First of all, I want to take this time to remind everyone to please pass the word along of how important it is to continue the discussion about the future of the arts in healthcare.  This is an opportunity for us to potential shape the outcome of our field into its most ideal format.  So, please, don’t miss the chance to make an impact! Thank you to those who have already posted, and I hope that those who have not will start now!

Now, for the discussion topic of the week.  Continuing the theme from my previous post – looking at the importance of our current and future leaders being able to recognize how to equally relate the arts (and artists) with the healthcare (and healthcare providers) – I found a sentence from the Green Paper that I thought a discussion could build from: Read the rest of this entry »

Collecting short lists of memorable public art projects from a range of colleagues has been revealing about the ways that public art functions in our life and memories. Here’s what Lili Ott, the Director of the Concord Art Association has to say:

Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” in Millenium Park in Chicago just blew me away.  I’d seen lots of images of it, so I didn’t expect such a gut reaction to it, but no picture had prepared me for the way it reflected not only the clouds and skyscrapers, but also all the people under it, around it, beside it. It was like the vitality of Chicago and all the Carl Sandburg poetry I ever read and all the history of Chicago was summed up in sitting and watching that sculpture reflect all the natural and man-made life around it. Very powerful

The Gateway Arch in St, Louis designed by Eoro Saarinen, which could be classed either as architecture or giant sculpture I think, was also amazing. I loved the way it reminded people that St. Louis was the gateway to the West, all the Lewis and Clark history, all the hopes for a shining future, and then its bold clean design. And it looks so modern but it’s older than I am and the little tram seats can’t hold as many of us big fat Americans as Saarinen designed it for in the 40′s.  That really brings home how much we’ve changed.

In Minneapolis, Spoonbridge and Cherry by Claus Oldenberg and Coosje Van Bruggen, made me realize that playful public art can be just as effective and iconic as “serious” art. Made me look at the art I show in a whole new way.

Fun to think about — and I’m interested myself that the three that came into my head at first were all from trips I’ve taken in the last decade– not from all the art I see every day at work or up and down the East Coast where I’ve lived. Hmmm.  I bet you’ll get an interesting selection of answers.

Share your three personally pivotal public art project with me, either here, or via email at

Tim Mikulski

Two weeks ago, I joined approximately 40 other arts education leaders in a two-day meeting to discuss plans for National Expectations for Learning in Arts Education, a projected originally taken on by State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE).
For the first time in 16 years, arts education experts from national organizations spent time evaluating the possible impact and creating a plan for potential revisions, additions, or replacement for National Arts Education Standards.
Over the two days of discussion, I was struck by the passion in the room and energized by what will be coming in the next steps in the process.
Much has changed in the world since 1994. In fact, an entire generation of students has passed through the K-12 school system since that time and approaches to the challenges of access, equity, and quality arts education must change if not only because of time alone. However, we also cannot ignore the fact that other core subject areas are also realigning and revisioning their expectations. We simply can’t be—forgive the term—’left behind.’ Read the rest of this entry »

How does one sum up the career of Louise Bourgeois, the French-born American artist who died on Monday in New York City at the age of 98? One of the reigning sculptors of our time, Bourgeois’ tough and emotional work was inspired by the darkest corners of memory and psyche. Evocations of her youth were represented by sexually suggestive fragmented forms, anthropomorphized abstraction, and brobdingnagian arachnids…referencing her mother’s role as both a protector and host but also echoing her craft as a master weaver and tapestry maker.

Her parent’s troubled marriage, complicated by her father’s long-time affair with Bourgeois’ own tutor, who lived in their home, played out in her work and her methodology. The artist said, “When a tapestry had to be washed in the river, it took four people to hoist it out and twist it. Twisting is very important for me. When I dreamt of getting rid of the mistress, it was by twisting her neck.”* Bourgeois’ unique ability to catch memory, like so many pieces of wool on barbed wire, and turn it into her medium and muse, is where her power lies. Read the rest of this entry »

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Michael R. Gagliardo

I started out as a band kid.  While my parents started me on piano lessons when I was in the 3rd grade, and I found it to be interesting (as long as I got to play what I wanted to play!), I think my interest in music was really sparked when I started playing the trumpet in the school band in the 5th grade.  By the time I got to middle school, I was hooked, and was headed down that path of musical obsession – if there was a school group or a church or a wedding that needed a trumpet over the next six years, I was the go-to guy.  So how did I get involved with strings? Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Mikulski

Thank you for taking the time to visit, read, and comment on the blog posts throughout our Arts Education Blog Salon this week.

Thanks to the hard work of all of our bloggers, I feel like visitors had the opportunity to learn more about the various aspects of arts education – from advocacy to standards – that many of us work with on a daily basis, and engage the authors via thoughtful comments and emails.

Although the Salon is over, we will continue to add new blogs on arts education throughout the rest of the year, and I am truly looking forward to the next time around.

If you are new to ARTSblog, we hope that you will continue visiting to read about all of the arts-related subject areas it covers.

And if you are particularly interested in arts education, I hope you join us for the Arts Education Preconference just before the Americans for the Arts Half-Century Summit in Baltimore, MD, June 24-25, 2010.

During the two-day session, we will discuss and plan the future of arts education in America , including giving you the opportunity to make a commitment to action when you return home. And if that doesn’t excite you, a presentation by keynote Derrick Ashong will.

For more information on the Arts Education Preconference, visit

And, if you ever have any questions about arts education, feel free to contact me anytime.

Merryl Goldberg

There is nothing like wonderful relationships to make life interesting, satisfying, challenging, and rewarding.  Our lives are filled with relationships from those we have with family, to friends, to partners, spouses, and even to those that are more passing, such as the relationship we have with the woman in the donut shop we visit every Saturday morning, or with the mail person, or with the stranger in the airport who doesn’t speak the same language, but nods in complete understanding as you wearily try to carry your bag, computer, and child through the crowded door to the check-in.  Our lives are filled with such relationships.

I was reminded of the importance of relationships this week as I attended my local High School’s performance of Footloose.  This is the same high school I wrote about last  year after they put on a production of Sweeney Todd.  This year’s performance was Footloose.  My high school neighbor, Gabe, a junior was the assistant stage manager, and we attended with his family and entourage on closing night.  Though I enjoyed the performance, what impressed me more was what happened after the performance. Read the rest of this entry »

Zack Hayhurst

In my last post, I ended with some questions about the academic field of arts management and how it should be studied. This past fall, I wrote a response to a paper that addresses this very same question.  The title of the original paper is Arts Administration: Field of Dreams by Charles M. Dorn. This paper, written in 1992, focuses on why the field of arts management lacks the seriousness afforded to other more established fields of study, and the steps that researchers in the field can take to change these perceptions. You can read my full response paper here.

The main idea of Dorn’s paper is that the field of arts administration has yet to develop a shared set of standards and beliefs that would afford it the respectful status it so desires within the academic community. Part of why Dorn thinks there is little consensus on theories and terminology within the arts administration community is due to the diverse academic backgrounds of those who comprise the field. Read the rest of this entry »

Making Meaning

Posted by David Flatley On May - 28 - 20101 COMMENT

David Flatley

Because so many of us need to raise a significant portion of our budget through grants to deliver arts education programming, we have the increasingly challenging task of articulating the “why” of this work to cash strapped funders. I’d suggest that it’s getting old to simply speak about “empowering” youth, and developing “critical thinking skills.”

Those are wonderful things, of course…objectives we all value and share; but as resources become more scarce, and we are driven to collaborate and build partnerships even more in order to maximize our leveraged and shared assets. We need to be more rigorous in our approach to articulating our impact. 

So I argue that for our own sake, if nothing else, let’s consider whether our continued use of phrases such as “Higher Order Thinking Skills,” “Critical Thinking Skills,” or “21st Century Learning Skills” might not become clichés, or worse, perhaps…that they might start to lose their significance. Do we all know what these terms mean exactly? And do we mean the same things when we use them?  I believe we start to do ourselves a disservice if we do not more explicitly articulate what these things look like, and how the arts make a difference. Read the rest of this entry »

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

I want to follow up on my last entry about the Local Advocacy Networks (LAN) that were started in San Diego County this spring with support from the California Alliance for Arts Education (CAAE). As you might recall four LANs (Escondido, San Diego, Vista, and South Bay) were launched in April and May and so far two have held their first follow up meetings.

At each of these meetings approximately 10 or more people gathered to review the brainstormed ideas from the breakfast launch event, discuss their vision for arts education in their district, and identify who else should be at the table. Each one identified at least three action steps they could take over the next year.

The Escondido LAN reported that they want to 1) start a blog or Facebook page to help people stay connected; 2) collaborate with their local Escondido Arts Partnership which is building an open-access web database to connect artists in north San Diego county with the schools; and 3) look into developing a citywide arts fair, an idea from the breakfast that met with considerable enthusiasm. Read the rest of this entry »

Rachel Evans

Do you know any pre-service arts educators? Those starting or finishing the student-teaching experience? Please deliver this letter to their inbox. Comments to this blog, especially additional suggestions for motivations and action steps for the Pre-Service Arts Educator, are encouraged. Thank you! 

Dear Pre-Service Arts Educators

Congratulations! You’ve stepped forward as the bravest of souls willing to self-identify your passion for an art form and your commitment to the education of young people.  I hope that your university is working diligently to aid you in becoming equally effective as an artist and as an educator, with plenty of wise mentoring as you merge the two into one mind, one body, one professional. 

It’s imperative that you know there is a meaningful movement afoot to create Common Core State Standards for the Arts; it’s on the event horizon.  See recent Arts Education Blog Salon entries by Lynn Tuttle and John Abodeely

Did you roll your eyes at the thought of new standards? I thought you might have.  

So what follows is a list of reasons why you, and you specifically, should care about the creation of arts standards to be adopted by as many states in the country as possible. Read the rest of this entry »

Art Inspires

Posted by MacEwen Patterson On May - 28 - 2010No comments yet

photo Michael Hevesy

It is pretty amazing to think on the impact art has had on society and culture since the beginning of recorded history. It’s one of the largest and most difficult to measure. One of my favorite minds, John David Garcia, defined it this way, “‘Beauty’ is the conscious perception of objective truth being communicated to our unconscious.” (Introduction, Creative Transformation,

So beauty, let’s call it “art” in this case, is valuable based on the impact an object can have on the subconscious of the viewer. We look at something and stop for a moment and say, “Wow! That really moves me.”

Two different people can look at the very same thing and have wildly divergent descriptions of that experience. Before recorded history, art was magical. Shamans drew possible futures onto cave walls; fertility, the hunt, prosperity, evoking the life they wanted for their communities. Read the rest of this entry »

Joan Weber

My friend Larry used to be the coordinator of fine arts for an urban school district. There was no other staff in the office. He was the fine arts division for 85,000 students. As happens, he missed the connection with students that isn’t afforded regularly to central administration.

So, he went back into a school and became a vice principal, choosing a school that was struggling with all indicators: test scores, enrollment, school climate, suspensions, and so on.

Larry went to this school specifically because the system decided to transform the school through the arts. Beginning this fall, he will be the artistic director for the city’s first middle school for the arts.

The building is one of the most historic schools in the city. Great city leaders came from this school. The city talks of the “glory days” that once reigned when the arts were honored and students succeeded and the school system believes that the school will be saved through the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

Donna Collins

Congratulations to the Tri-M Honor Society Chapter 2252 at Midview High School in Grafton, OH. As the keynote speaker for this year’s induction ceremony I had the opportunity to meet more than forty fabulous students who excel at music, academics, and leadership. 

Justin, the chapter’s president was an outstanding emcee for the evening and chapter advisor and professional music educator Lisa Manning provided a very distinguished event built on tradition and ceremony.

During the course of the evening students performed vocal and instrumental works of art. There were solos, ensembles, and duets. The music was beautiful, varied, and worthy of Tri-M honors. Parents, grandparents, and friends attended the induction and were so proud of the students’ accomplishments. Beyond the students’ musical talents was the recognition of their community service work. Also noted was the Chapter’s honor in being named as Ohio’s Tri-M Chapter of the year for 2009.

The students, without exception, were talented and also appreciative of their peers’ musical talents and leadership. Thirteen new inductees were honored and nearly thirty additional students received first, second, and third year honors. Read the rest of this entry »

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.