John Abodeely

For arts education programs and advocates to be successful, we must design our strategy and programs to fit within the larger context of public education. If our provision tactics—such as teaching artist residencies—do not fit within the limiting elements of our schools—such as budgets and schedules—then our work must change. If student requirements levied by the federal, state, or local policy narrow the curriculum too harshly to allow our kids to learn in and through the arts, then our work must change.

For example, arts integration has been used as more than as an instructional strategy. It has been an advocacy strategy. Providers have used arts integration to fit within scheduling limitations of schools. This is a response to the existing context of education.

Other programs now work with decision-makers that have more influence over the policy and funding conditions that may narrow the curriculum. Outreach to decision-making adults such as school boards and legislators seems to have become a part of many local programs, though years ago only national and state-level organizations did it. This is an effort to change the context of education. Read the rest of this entry »

Allen Bell

In the 2006 Arts Education Partnership Research and Policy Brief, “From Anecdote to Evidence,” authors Sandra Ruppert and Andrew Nelson called for “better and more comprehensive state level information if the arts are to remain an integral component of what constitutes a well-rounded education for all students.”

At the time, the policy brief referenced studies in Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington.

There are a couple of more recent examples of arts education research that continue to point the way in which we might fill the knowledge gap on the state level.

One recent study is the 2009-2010 Statewide Arts Education Assessment conducted by the Western States Arts Federation. Released in May 2010, the report provides an inventory and assessment of arts education available in the public schools for Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming. Some of their major findings include:

-          the arts are not treated as a core subject in more than half the districts in three of the four states surveyed
-          student-to-teacher ratios are very high in the arts
-          of the four participating states, only Utah had significant offerings in dance
-          obtaining a visual arts specialist would be a valuable addition to most schools
-          a greater percentage of art teachers attended district workshops for professional development
-          money, priorities, and time are the major obstacles to the advancement of the arts Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons from Tinkertown

Posted by Kim Dabbs On September - 13 - 2010No comments yet

Kim Dabbs

This past summer, my husband and I packed up our car and started a cross country road trip that spanned two months and over seven thousand miles. With two toddlers and a teenager in tow, our “Dabbs Trek” as we coined it in our blog, was a journey that travelled from our home in Metro Detroit to Chicago, where we picked up Route 66 and drove clear across the country until we stepped foot on the Santa Monica beaches. We traversed up the Pacific Coast Highway to Seattle and then turned east over the mountains, through the Great Plains, and back home again.  What an adventure it was!

Many people ask us what the highlight of our trip was, where was our favorite city, and questions of that nature and I always come back to this stop we made just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, called the Tinkertown Museum. This roadside attraction was full of wonder and enough to delight my husband and I, our 14-year-old son, AND our 3-year-old and 2-year-old (as we went farther in our journey, we realized that doesn’t happen very often).

Tinkertown was built by Ross Ward, who over the span of 40 years collected, built, and created this space in and around his home. The maze of animated miniature vignettes and glass bottle walls overwhelm the senses while collections of oddities from wedding cake couples to a 35-foot boat that sailed around the world made all of us laugh out loud.
Then, we hit the sign on the wall, hidden between memorabilia that said, “I did all this while you were watching TV.Read the rest of this entry »

Imperatives for Arts Education

Posted by Mark Slavkin On September - 13 - 20102 COMMENTS

Mark Slavkin

If you care about arts education, you must be in the advocacy business.

Until such time as the arts are fully embedded in every American school system, we have to be energetic in making the case.  We cannot leave this work to a handful of “advocacy organizations.”

In recent years I have been pleased to see our field become more sophisticated in this regard.  More arts education supporters understand we need both “top-down” and “bottom-up” support. Through federal, state, and school district policy and funding commitments we can influence change at a large-scale or systemic basis.

At the same time, we realize the need to provide hands-on support and resources and the classroom and school site level. As we toggle back and forth between broad policy support and technical assistance in schools, we need to be careful that we frame the right arguments for the right settings.

In thinking about our advocacy strategies, it struck me that our underlying goal is to create an imperative for policymakers and educators to expand their commitment to arts education. How can we create forces that are so compelling that change will happen on a consistent basis, and not be left to individual personal preferences? I see three primary imperatives: the “values” imperative, the “political” imperative, and the “instructional” imperative.  I am concerned we have put too many eggs in the first two baskets, and too few in the third. Read the rest of this entry »

National Arts Standards 2.0

Posted by Lynn Tuttle On September - 13 - 20103 COMMENTS

Lynn Tuttle

*Editor’s Note: Updated information can be found in this post.

In response to the interest around the Common Core State Standards initiative, and to the technological changes the arts and arts education have undergone in the last 15 years (I wasn’t blogging 15 years ago, were you?), the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SEADAE) convened a meeting of national arts education stakeholders on May 11-12 to determine if the time is right to develop a new set of national arts education standards. The resounding answer was “YES!”

One of the first steps in the process is to find out how you – arts educator, teaching artist, cultural organization, school administrator – use the current version of national arts standards in your teaching, curriculum, and programs.

SEADAE, in collaboration with the National Dance Education Organization, the Educational Theatre Association, the National Association for Art Education and MENC: the National Association for Music Education, is creating an online survey to obtain your input, ideas and suggestions. Read the rest of this entry »

New School Year, New Blog Salon

Posted by Tim Mikulski On September - 13 - 20101 COMMENT

Tim Mikulski

The teachers and kids are back in school. Starbucks is selling Pumpkin Spice Lattes. The air in D.C. has cooled off for the first time since March.

Of course it’s time for another Arts Education Blog Salon.
Now in its third round, Americans for the Arts is proud to host yet another week of blogs dedicated to the topic of arts education.

This time, we have a wide range of participants – from newbies who haven’t blogged before to veterans who have been with us since the first one. Altogether, we have 17 brilliant minds ready to share information and spark debate.

Our Scheduled Blog Roster:

John Abodeely, National  Partnerships Program Manager, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Allen Bell, Arts Education Research & Information Program Director, South Arts
Donna Collins, Executive Director, Ohio Alliance for Arts Education
Sarah Collins, Master’s Degree Candidate, University of Oregon
Kim Dabbs, Executive Director, Michigan Youth Arts
Rachel Evans, Assistant Professor, Kean University
Mimi Flaherty Willis, Senior Director of Education, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts
Zack Hayhurst, Master’s Degree Candidate, American University
Tim Mikulski, Arts Education Program Manager, Americans for the Arts
Heather Noonan, Vice President for Advocacy, League of American Orchestras
Jim Palmarini, Director of Educational Policy, Educational Theatre Association
Laura Reeder, Arts Education Instructor/Graduate Assistant, Syracuse University
Victoria Saunders, Arts Education Consultant, Victoria J. Saunders Consulting
Barry Shauck, President, National Art Education Association
Mark Slavkin, Vice President for Education, Music Center (Los Angeles County)
Lynn Tuttle, Director of Arts Education & Comprehensive Curriculum, Arizona Dept. of Education
Joan Weber, Educator/Arts Education Consultant, Creativity & Associates Read the rest of this entry »

Since the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution declaring the week following the second Sunday of September as Arts in Education Week just a short while ago (the end of July), I feel like our sector has been speeding along trying to find quick ways to celebrate the occasion.

Although time was short, I suggested that educators might see this as a way to celebrate this new week for the first time around by starting a project with students that would end later in the fall. For example, a music educator may start writing a new school song to be performed at an assembly in October or November; a visual art educator may start working on a mural project that begins the planning stages next week; or, a dance educator begins a class’ first performance during the week.

No matter what you decide to do to celebrate, it doesn’t have to start and end all during next week.

In fact, some of the brilliant minds that participate in the #ArtsEd chat on Twitter every Thursday night, came up with the idea to have those engaged to pledge to support arts education in their community and vow to testify on behalf of their local programs at a school board meeting during Youth Arts Month in March 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve been reading and seeing a lot about creativity and innovation lately. Here are five items that I thought are worth sharing. What do you have to add to the list? What great examples are you seeing of how the arts are inspiring creativity in your communities?

  1. In an article in Fast Company, Nike CEO Mark Parker talks about the dinners he regularly hosts with artists to kick around ideas.  
  2. At our annual convention in Baltimore, Jonathan Spector, President of The Conference Board, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2B0bSBCvJY) spoke about the role of an arts education in instilling the creative thinking which is needed to bring about the productivity and innovation which everyone business leaders is looking for these days.
  3. CEOs interviewed in The 2010 IBM Global CEO Study list creativity as the most important leadership competency needed to manage in an increasing complex world. Read the rest of this entry »

Alie Wickham

Well, our cycle for the PepsiRefresh grant has come to an end.  We ended at an excellent ranking of 117 – seriously folks; I’m not trying to be sarcastic.  Considering the hundreds of incredible ideas and passionate organizations (and individuals) we were up against, we should be proud.

However, this did get me thinking (and perfect timing considering I needed to get another post up)…

What would you do with a PepsiRefresh Grant???

I mean it! If you were given the opportunity to write a PepsiRefresh Grant ($5,000 to $250,000), what would you write the grant for and how would you design whatever project or mission you were trying to get funded? However, here is the challenge:

In the spirit of looking to the future, and the resourceful Green Paper given to us to work from, how would you use the challenges posted in the paper or via the arts in healthcare listserv (hospital advocacy, funding, certificates and degrees, research, etc.) to develop the “perfect” future of an arts in healthcare project, program or intervention/resolution to one of the challenges listed above?

I challenge you to sincerely think about this – are you up for it???  Let’s hear your voice!!

“Not much,” thought the staff of the Fort Wayne Ballet when Karen Gibbons-Brown, artistic/executive director, first raised the idea of partnering with the Fort Wayne TinCaps baseball team for National Dance Week.

Her idea was to create a series of baseball trading cards featuring the dancers paired with ball players and linesmen from the ballet’s sponsor, Indiana-Michigan Power as a promotion for the ballet company. The point of the cards is to show that everybody dances. 

“Dance has the reputation of being elitist, standoffish or only for special people. Well, everybody’s special. Everybody can dance,” Gibbons-Brown said. “Dancing is a part of my life…but we are ordinary people.”

The baseball players were intrigued to see their moves replicated by the dancers, or maybe it was vice versa. Read the rest of this entry »

Are We on the Same Page Here?

Posted by Ben Burdick On August - 31 - 20109 COMMENTS

Ben Burdick

A great article I read today by Mark Bauerlein, entitled “Advocating for Arts in the Classroom,” really got me thinking about the increasing ideological divide I think public education is facing. With budget shortfalls becoming the norm at the federal, state, county, and municipal level, public education and the funding it receives are becoming a topic of great interest, scrutiny, and concern for its proponents and opponents alike.  Education reform, overhaul, rethinking, whatever you want to call it, is the name of the game at times like this.  People want to see results, no matter how drastic the measures might be to see positive change.  But while everyone wants to arrive at the same place (increased literacy, higher graduation rates, lower dropout rates, college/workforce preparedness, etc.), the path to get there is splitting.  Those creating education policy (U.S. Department of Education, state school boards, etc.) are increasingly at odds with those who are tasked with carrying out those policies in the classroom (teachers).  While some policymakers believe that bringing “free market ideas” into public education, with a great example being the recent “Race to the Top,” is an innovative way to spur change, I think many teachers have a hard time believing that creating competition in a field where collaboration is incredibly important is going to be effective.

Bauerlein’s article covers some of the same ground in arts education, seeing a divide between those who advocate for arts education, and those who teach the arts in a classroom.  While I don’t think using the “arts-saves-kids” argument that he talks about is a bad thing for arts advocates to supply to policymakers, I think he makes a good point about how it can do a disservice to those who teach the arts.  From his article: Read the rest of this entry »

Joanna Chin

Sometimes, I like to take a step away from the art itself to ask what art does for society.  In a world that often portrays our field as frivolous or boils our work down to how it can stimulate local economies, it’s a nice exercise to imagine how the thing to which we dedicate our lives actually contributes, and has even more potential to contribute, to bettering the world at large.

Shifting gears a bit, let’s talk about one of the most global issues facing…well, the globe: climate change.  A 2009 report by the Pew Research Center claims that the number of Americans who believe manmade global warming is real has dropped 14 % from 2008.  And, according to a Brookings Institute study, even among Americans who believe that global warming is occurring, there was an 18% decrease in respondents who said they were very confident that this phenomenon was taking place.

Speculation about the reasons behind the climate change movement’s loss of momentum abound.  While some popular hypotheses for its decline include the current economic crisis and the radicalization of the Republican Party in the wake of Obama’s election, one of the most interesting to me was in a Newsweek blog entry suggesting that many Americans are indifferent or unable to comprehend the long-term effects of climate change.  That indifference has emerged more strongly now because it’s much harder to prioritize abstract, far-away problems like climate change when compared to the daily threat of losing one’s job. Read the rest of this entry »

Marete Wester

With New York City baking in the east coast heatwave for most of the month of July, it was refreshing to head to the relatively cool, rainy, high mountains of Aspen, CO, in August for the third Americans for the Arts Seminar for Leadership in the Arts, held in collaboration with the Harman-Eisner Program in the Arts. 

This year’s program entitled “The Artful Entrepreneur: Exploring Philanthropic Innovations for Arts and Culture in the 21st Century” attracted 30 arts philanthropists, corporate and foundation leaders, arts administrators, and activists to the Aspen Institute.

Hailing from a wide range of diverging experiences, the participants ranged from individual arts patrons to foundation executives to venture capitalists, from grassroots community leaders to cultural policy experts to board members involved in major cultural capital campaigns. They rolled up their sleeves and spent two days wrestling with the particularly disturbing idea that on top of the arts losing their traditional philanthropic market share, we are also not on the radar screens of the growing number of social entrepreneurs who are sending their venture philanthropy dollars to causes other than the arts. What we can do to collectively change the trend was the question at hand? Read the rest of this entry »

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Liesel Fenner

For artists and/or arts administrators new to public art, two public art professional development opportunities are coming soon: a 3-day conference, Public Art 360, and the Public Art Academy, a series of three online webinars for artists. Understanding the multi-layer components of what is required to not only create artwork for public space, but also to understand the tandem administrative requisites are paramount in developing public art in your community.

IF you live in the southeastern or mid-Atlantic states, get yourself to Asheville, North Carolina! Public Art 360 is a 3-day public art conference for artists and administrators – Thursday, September 23 through Saturday, September 25, 2010 at the Crest Center and Pavilion on top of Crest Mountain in west Asheville.  

Yours truly will be co-presenting with Brendan Greaves of NC Arts Council, You Are Here: Defining Space. Understanding the context of the site and place before you begin designing is one of the keys to creating successful public art. The conference will have two tracks – one for artists, coming into the field of public art (or thinking of coming into the field of public art) and one for administrators/organizations with public art programs (or starting a public art program).  Other highlights of the conference include sessions by Barbara Goldstein, Public Art Director for the City of San Jose and creator of the Public Art Academy, a keynote address by Bill Ivey former director of the National Endowment for the Arts during the Clinton administration and a closing address by conceptual visual artist Mel Chin. 29, October 13, and November 3. You will get all the tools and connections you need to move forward successfully. Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s the second half of an interview between Alie Wickham and Mike Gagliardo, the ambassadors for the two green paper topics: Arts in Healthcare and Strings. Alie and Mike discuss how the green papers have approached a vision of the future.

The first half of their interview can be found here.