Gary Devault

A 2005 Harris Poll shows that 93 percent of Americans feel that the arts are vital to a well-rounded education for all children. The high percentage of Americans valuing arts within education, however, has not led to a prioritizing of the arts within the educational system. 

The Arts Education Council at Americans for the Arts believes that one of the primary focuses of this next decade must be to move from declaring value for arts education to helping decision makers prioritize arts education for all students. Several key groups need to be included for this process to be effective and sustainable: 1.) Local education decision makers; 2.) The business community; and 3.) Parents.  I would like to focus this blog entry on parents.  Read the rest of this entry »

Remember to Imagine

Posted by MacEwen Patterson On May - 27 - 20101 COMMENT

photo Michael Hevesy

To me, the arts are really the practice of remembering to imagine. I have a tendency to fall into habitual routines that require little forethought. But when I engage in the arts, I begin with the question, “How do I want this to look?” and then, “What feelings do I want this to evoke in the viewer?”

I remember when my son was 3 years old. We were in the living room and it was play time. He wanted to play with action figures and it wasn’t enough that we use those figures in an imaginary setting.

For him, I had to have a unique persona, different from “Dad” that was playing with the action figure “dragon,” while he had to be someone other than “son” playing with the action figure “knight.” We chose to swap identities. He became “Dad” and I became “son” and together we played “dragon and knight.” Read the rest of this entry »

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

I’m Victoria Plettner-Saunders, a member of the Art Education Council and arts consultant in San Diego. One of the projects I’ve been working on this spring is the development of four Local Advocacy Networks for K-12 arts education in San Diego County school districts. It is part of a statewide project that the California Alliance for Arts Education (CAAE) began last year and has resulted in the development of at least 20 grassroots community-based arts education advocacy networks throughout California.

The model for developing each local advocacy network (LAN) is quite simple and easily replicable. A coordinator is identified in each community to help launch the initiative via an informational breakfast meeting. About 50 community leaders (e.g. politicians, educators, faith-based community members, arts organizations, school board members, etc.) are invited, which usually nets about 30-35 actual attendees. At the breakfast they hear presentations by school district staff about the opportunities and challenges their visual and performing arts programs are experiencing, as well as a brief contextual presentation by CAAE staff about the role and history of arts education in California’s public education system. Read the rest of this entry »

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? It’s really simply – I had an instrumental music teacher in middle school who wasn’t just a band guy. He also conducted the school’s orchestra. That’s correct – not the school’s string class – the school’s ORCHESTRA. When I was in middle school, for two years, I played trumpet in a full orchestra. When I got to high school, we had TWO full orchestras, PLUS a pit orchestra for the annual school musical, where we played shows like “South Pacific” and “My Fair Lady.”  Read the rest of this entry »

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Donna Collins

One Tuesday in March I had a fabulous evening when I visited with students and staff at Marietta College…it was Pizza and Politics Night! Now that makes for a terrific combo!  We spent our time talking about advocacy, the role arts and arts education advocates, and how passion has such a central role in delivering our messages. Most interesting to me was the energy in the room and the willingness of every student to get involved.

We shared stories about our experiences ‘making the case’ and concluded that when advocates have a compelling story to share they have a much better chance of gaining a policymaker’s attention and support. Couple that personal story with data and research that compliments the message and you’ve got a winner! We must always remember to speak from where our audience is listening! Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Mikulski

As I covered in last week’s Arts Watch blog post (Glee-fully Supporting Arts Education), it certainly seems like the same three or four subject areas are continually battling it out for that last spot into the school building, before the funding door shuts.

Often, it is arts education classes like music, dance, theater, and art that are left out in the cold, but sometimes we’re joined by physical education, foreign languages, library services, and now even formerly-free afterschool sports.

Glee characters Will Schuster and Sue Sylvester battled in out over funding for the glee club or the cheerleading squad, but I’m sure just as often we are seeing Señor Schuster and the media specialist from the library having the same conversation that always starts with, “my subject area/sport deserves to stay funded because…”

While I’m not encouraging dancers, actors, French lovers, and information gatherers to storm the west wing of their school in a battle to the death against language arts, calculus, and physics fiends, I feel that we could be more equitable in the way that all of these subjects are taught in schools today. Read the rest of this entry »

The Common Core for the Arts are a huge triumph for our professional community—for arts teachers, teaching artists, cultural organizations, supporters, advocates, etc. This is for two reasons:

1.    We’re keeping up with the other subjects.
2.    Three dozen people got together agreed on one giant thing.

Let me explain.

1.    We have to keep up with our peers. We have to pony up the same infrastructure, research, and political mobilization that our peers in the other core subjects are offering.  That’s true if we want arts education to be treated equally. And right now, the Common Core for ELA and math define policy advances (even if we disagree with the content or strategy). But there’s more. Read the rest of this entry »

Greetings from the rural heartland of Wooster, OH. My name is Gary DeVault, and I am the Fine Arts Consultant for Tri-County Educational Service Center, and serve as a member of the Arts Education Council for Americans for the Arts. Tri-County ESC is a state and locally supported agency which serves the school districts in Ashland, Holmes, and Wayne Counties in Ohio to improve the quality of education for all children.

As Fine Arts Consultant, I supervise nearly 150 music, visual art, and drama/theatre teachers in the seventeen school districts in a three county region. I provide curriculum and instructional support; design professional development opportunities for arts, classroom teachers, and teaching artists; coordinate arts services with community arts organizations and institutions; and provide direct services to students through numerous fine arts events and activities.

This school year has been filled with lots of exciting school music concerts, art exhibitions, plays and musicals. It is so gratifying to see the results of student learning in and through the arts at public performances and art displays. However, much of my time lately has been spent advocating vigorously for adequate funding for arts programs; seeking additional sponsors, donors, and/or grant resources for arts projects; and making the case with school board members and superintendents for keeping arts teachers employed in school districts where failed tax levies and a weak economy is threatening the inclusion of arts education for all children. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by Joan Weber On May - 26 - 20101 COMMENT

For three years I was the director of an organization whose mission is to make arts education and arts integration an integral part of the education of every child in an urban public school system. Our goal was to organize on a city-wide level to bring together the arts and cultural organizations and the school system, a la Big Thought in Dallas, our model. At the same time, we were working school by school to create systemic reform using arts integration.

It is very hard work, especially in times of economic uncertainty. We (schools, cultural organizations, teaching artists, parents, advocacy organizations) agree on the common cause, that all students in our city deserve access to quality arts education from specialists in the buildings, through trips to cultural organizations and by bringing artists into the school. But, we have different ideas as to how to achieve that goal, especially given our current existential crises.

A school system is like a giant cruise ship that moves with great difficulty and at an incredibly slow pace. Arts education advocacy feels like being part of a flotilla of little tiny tugboats trying to push the cruise ship back into port. (Sometimes, each tugboat is trying to push the cruise ship into a different port.) And, when you look at other parts of the cruise ship, you’ll find thousands of little tugboats flying different flags (phys ed, foreign language, business, etc.), working with all of their strength to push the ship in the direction of distant ports. Read the rest of this entry »

In the Americans for the Arts May 2010 Monthly Wire, a Top-10 list of reasons to attend the Half-Century Summit in Baltimore in June included: Reason #4: “Think you don’t have the time? Fake a cough or take a well-deserved vacation day (just kidding!).”

Unfortunately, for many of my colleagues in arts education, this joke hits a little too close to home. Arts teachers in public schools are given very little time to attend professional development opportunities outside of their school or school district. In Arizona, the dance educators hold an annual “pink tutu flu,” where many have to call in sick in order to participate in a statewide professional development day for dance teachers. Even when the day was devoted to our new state standards in dance, many teachers couldn’t take the day as a professional work day – they had to call in sick.

Colleagues working at the state level don’t necessarily fare any better. One of the leaders of my national organization, SEADAE (State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education), is routinely “sick” in order to attend Arts Education Partnership meetings. Read the rest of this entry »

Thanks to the kindness of Arts Education Council member Steve Tennen, I had the opportunity to visit a dance class at New York P.S. 241 in Harlem last week during a sojourn to the New York office of Americans for the Arts for other meetings.

Over the past 30 years, Steve’s organization, Arts Connection, has provided the students of New York City schools access to art, music, media, visual arts, and dance, and the countless accolades they have received throughout that time demonstrate their undying devotion to the cause that is so near and dear to our hearts.

Following the hour-long session, dance teacher Yvette Martinez did an amazing job of explaining everything that she is able to do with the children thanks in part to a grant from MetLife. Not only is she providing them with quality dance lessons, but she is also working well beyond the topic of dance. She includes lessons in how the muscles of the body work, how the food the children eat impacts their current and future health (many of them are already diagnosed with diabetes and their families have histories of heart complications and cancer), and how to read food labels on the sides of their food. Read the rest of this entry »

American Style Magazine goes ga-ga about Baltimore in its May issue listing favorite picks. The Americans for the Arts staff and colleagues in the region have put together some of their Baltimore favorites too–to help attendees at this year’s Annual Convention. This first blog post covers Cultural Activities in Baltimore:

Bird Plaza at the American Visionary Art Museum
  • Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum and a pint for history’s sake at Annabelle Lee Tavern, shrine to all things Edgar Allen Poe
    –Kate Gibney, Americans for the Arts

  • Visiting the Baltimore Museum of Art or attending the city’s Artscape
    –Sara Hisamoto, Visit Baltimore

  • Touring the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also called the Baltimore Basilica. It’s considered the masterpiece of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the “Father of American Architecture.”
    –Theresa Cameron, Americans for the Arts

  • Get there early on a Saturday you can see a show in the center of the Harbor. Normally magic, clowns and singers.
    –Angel Baker, Americans for the Arts

  • Walter’s Art Museum (one of the best decorative arts collections in the world)
    –Karen Newell, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation
    Read the rest of this entry »

Joe Landon

When I joined the California Alliance for Arts Education as its policy director in 2006, they were savoring the hard earned victory that led to California’s historic investment in arts education, including the one time block grant shared with physical education, as well as the ongoing “Arts and Music” categorical funding.

But even then, the Alliance’s concern was shifting toward the question of how to sustain advocacy at the local level, where crucial decisions made by local school boards determine the quality, equity, and access of arts education in that school district.

When last year the state legislature gave local districts the ‘flexibility’ to spend the Arts and Music Block grant on whatever programs they considered most essential, the Alliance had already embarked on a project to build a local advocacy network in communities and districts throughout the state.

In the first year of this pilot program, we selected ten sites throughout the state, reflecting diverse communities, geographical areas, and economic conditions. Our goal was to gather the expertise around what would be required to foster an ongoing coalition of local leaders who share a commitment to build public understanding and support for the critical role of arts education in the development of every student. Read the rest of this entry »

Lynn Tuttle

Editor’s Note: For the latest on the national arts education standards movement, read this post by Arts Education Council Member Lynne Kingsley published on 9/20/11!

In 1994, the professional associations representing dance, music, theatre, and visual arts teachers, collaborated on the creation of national Voluntary Arts Standards. The arts were the first subjects to create national voluntary standards.

Later this year, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) will release Common Core State Standards for Math and English Language Arts. 48 states have already agreed to adopt these new standards as the basis for their state-level standards in English and Mathematics. The Obama administration is rewarding points for implementation of Common Core Standards in its competitive education grants, including Race to the Top, and has signaled a continued interest in the Common Core Standards movement in their Blueprint for Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

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 standards. The resounding answer was “yes!” Read the rest of this entry »

In response to “Leadership is a Verb – so Act on it!”, Karin writes, “We need to remember that these industries need liaisons who are empathetic and understanding of both sides of the coin and can speak to both communities.”

Now, I believe I know which two communities Karin is referring to.  However, Karin, if you read this and I am incorrect, please feel free to let me know.  The two communities that come to my mind from this response are:

1) Arts   2) Healthcare

It is true – the leaders of our field must understand both sides, equally, and have similar empathy for each of them.  The arts in healthcare are most impacting when they work as a compliment for one another. Just like in arts in education – they are most impacting when the artists understand what the educators need, and vice versa. Or with the Public Voice in Arts Advocacy – how can we even begin to describe the importance of the arts to politicians if we don’t first allow the artists to understand the “behind-the-scenes” of politics – I’m sure there is a bulk of information in politics that we never hear.  Read the rest of this entry »

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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.