Incandescence Nostalgia

Posted by Arnold Aprill On September - 21 - 20094 COMMENTS

The European Union, ushering in “a new era of light”, is banning the sale and production of incandescent light bulbs.  Europeans are hoarding these bulbs, not because they are more efficient, (they don’t last as long as the newer light bulbs, they produce unwanted heat, and they waste energy) but rather, because they are what we imagine when we imagine illumination. It is hard for us to think of something we have grown up with in a new light – even when we are thinking about new light.

When it comes to our thinking about arts education in our schools, we should remember that many of us grew up with arts education programs we took for granted. The public elementary school I attended had excellent visual art teachers, dedicated instrumental and vocal music teachers, inspired and inspiring theater teachers (I became a professional theater director), and even some dance instruction. All classrooms had pianos, and all my teachers knew how to play them.

But now, when we advocate for arts education for our children in our schools, we have a double challenge: 1) much of the arts education many of us grew up with and took for granted is GONE from our schools, and 2) in a digital age, we must advocate for arts education that has elements we never experienced: video production, podcasts, web design, digital music composition. We must move from nostalgia for the incandescent to advocacy for the florescent and the halogen and the Light Emitting Diode. Read the rest of this entry »

Greetings from Las Vegas, Nevada — a community that is rich in arts of all types. Our school district, the Clark County School District, is 8,000 square miles—larger than many states—and it places a high value on Arts Education. We employ approximately 1,000 elementary and secondary full-time, licensed Arts Educators.

It was my privilege to supervise the Secondary Fine and Performing Arts Education Programs from 1994 through 2007 and it was during that time that we took up an especially interesting concept to reach out to our district’s burgeoning Hispanic population which had grown to 40%. In 2002, we implemented a standards-based, sequential curriculum in Mariachi and since then, thousands of students have become engaged in Music Education through their involvement in this program. This year’s Secondary Mariachi Program already has an enrollment count of over 3,000.

Why is this even important?

The recent NAEP Arts Assessment reports racial/ethnic/gender gaps in test data for music and visual arts education. Read the rest of this entry »

What Do the Students Think?

Posted by Jenna Lee On September - 21 - 20093 COMMENTS

I know that most of us who are reading this blog have a strong belief that the arts are vital to education.  But as I am often asked about why I believe so strongly in the arts and about what an arts education can really do, I sometimes question my purpose.  I know that I and my like minded colleagues believe there should be more of the arts in schools – but what do the students think?

I recently surveyed 27 Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD public high school students outside of the art room.  Most – but not all – students were currently or had previously taken a variety of arts classes, including visual arts, chorus, band, orchestra, and theatre.  I asked a series of questions pertaining to their perceptions of the arts program in their high school.  The questioning included whether students felt that art should be a requirement in high school, what subject the students viewed as “most important”, and what skills the students have learned through the arts and how those skills will help them in school, in their lives and in the future.

The good news: nearly 80% of the students surveyed believe there should be an art requirement in high school.  The students had various insightful reasons about why it is important to have art in their schools.  Many students thought the arts were a valuable tool for self-expression, stress relief and an outlet for working through personal issues. Read the rest of this entry »

Greetings from the rural heartland of Wooster, Ohio.  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 nineteen 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. 

In thinking about what is important for parents to know and do for arts education, I began reflecting on the conversations I have had with parents in my 30 years as a music educator and arts supervisor.  Whenever I talk with parents about the important things that they would like for their children to experience in school, they include music and art. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Edward Clapp, Project Director of 20UNDER40, has just reported that the project received 304 chapter proposals from 343 prospective authors on five continents—all under the age of forty.

From the 20UNDER40 website: “20UNDER40 endeavors to collect twenty essays about the future of the arts and arts education, each written by an emerging leader under the age of forty. In doing so, this anthology will provide a unique arena for new ideas by formally gathering the thoughts of young artists, teaching artists, administrators, researchers, and other arts and arts education professionals—legitimizing the talent of young leaders by bringing their ideas out of the margins and into the forefront of our dialogue.”

To continue intergenerational dialogue,  20UNDER40 has established an online discussion board where you can answer this question amongst a cadre of international arts professionals. Read the rest of this entry »

The first thing I did was set a goal I could never reach on my own. Long before I even joined or started a cause. I just knew I had to go big if I were going to achieve anything at all.

Second, I picked something that I knew I was connected to in a big way. Something that I could discuss until the room ran out of air. And I chose something that I didn’t think of as controversial. There are people who think my cause is controversial, but to me, its a no brainer. It keeps me from playing small, being self conscious, or overly concerned about what other people will think of me. The cause on Facebook is Keep the Arts in Public Schools.

The third thing I did was make a declaration. I said to myself and everyone I knew for an entire month, “This year I’m raising $50,000 for arts education in grade schools. I don’t know how, I just know I will.” Read the rest of this entry »

From September 21 to 25, two dozen arts education experts from around the country will blog daily on Americans for the Arts’ new arts education blog and webpage:

Each September, thousands visit our site, taking the start of the school year as an opportunity to ask questions about their children’s arts education. So the topic of this blog event will serve not only arts professionals but also citizens and concerned parents. Our esteemed bloggers will be talking about steps each person can take to ensure the children of their community have access to a great arts education.

Our bloggers will include members of the Arts Education Council of Americans for the Arts; Lucia Brawley, activist, actress, and writer for the Huffington Post; emerging leaders Jenna Lee and Kim Willey, both of Washington, DC; Mike Blakeslee from MENC; state advocacy leaders; state department of education staff; teaching artists; local program experts; and, other folks from all over the country. Read the rest of this entry »

Americans for the Arts Network Councils are volunteer, working bodies that augment and inform the work of Americans for the Arts. The Network Councils for Arts Education, Emerging Leaders, and Public Art are all seeking nominations for a three-year term from January 1, 2010–December 30, 2012.

Candidates must be professional members of Americans for the Arts and you may nominate yourself or a colleague. The deadline for nominations is October 2, 2009. To find out more about eligibility, guidelines, and nominating yourself or a colleague, visit our website.

Questions about getting involved in the networks?  E-mail

I’m so happy to have been invited to return to the National Arts Marketing Project Conference and host another Sponsorship Boot Camp Preconference. I’ve been involved since the conference’s first year in 2001, and I’m flattered to have been invited back ever since to run the boot camp. I must be doing something right. Having watched how these NAMP Conferences have grown since the beginning,  I have to admit that they have gotten better and better (ie, content), not just bigger and bigger.

As you can imagine, securing corporate money is getting more difficult in today’s economy so the boot camp has become a staple at the conference.  I promise each and every one of you that you will walk out of the room with specific tools – that work – starting  the first day you get back to your desk.

Let me tell you a little bit about my background. I spent 20 years giving away money around the world for The Chase Manhattan Bank, that is, “heritage” Chase, the original one before it merged with any other banks. I spent eight years in the Philanthropy group and then moved over to Marketing for what I thought would be six months. The six months turned into 12 more years, and I landed up creating the first sponsorship program in a commercial bank.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Today, The Washington Times published an editorial titled “Inartful Politics” that contains many inaccuracies and fabrications. It was originally posted on its The Water Cooler blog and was preceded by a number of other blog posts by the writer that were equally unfounded.

On September 13, I issued the following letter to the editors of The Washington Times urging them to correct this misinformation.

To the Editors of The Washington Times:The better health care for artists conspiracy fabricated by Kerry Picket of The Washington Times goes something like this:

The White House and the NEA, which gives out grants, “pressured” 21 national arts organizations and a bunch of artists on a conference call to “comply with the Administration’s wishes” to advocate for health care which resulted in the release of statements endorsing health care reform and urging Congress to act. Plus, when the President and CEO of Americans for the Arts met with the incoming NEA Chair on August 27 or 28, as chronicled in a podcast by Americans for the Arts, Lynch must have been pushed into supporting health care reform because the podcast posted on his website mentioned it once, and then had a mysterious audio failure for a couple of days at the end of August. And when Ms. Picket called about the podcast it went back up.

Moderately interesting as fiction, this, however, is very poor journalism. Read the rest of this entry »

We’re all back to school…hooray!  I think.  It’s a little hard to be excited as I begin the new semester at my university in California;  I’ve been furloughed at 10% of my pay, the students are paying 30% more than they did last semester, and so many classes have been cut that students are scrambling. What a tough entry into a new year – making learning exciting a pretty big challenge.

Despite the challenges, we all have roles to play – and it is important to play them well!  As I met with my students the first day, I went over the syllabus, as I usually do, and then I played a song from “Into the Woods,” by Stephen Sondheim.  The class I teach is called “Learning Through the Arts.”  The song I played is called “Children will listen.”  It is a wonderful tune with great lyrics (sampled here): Read the rest of this entry »

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serveIn this podcast, Nina Ozlu Tunceli, Chief Counsel for Government and Public Affairs, discusses the United We Serve ArtsUSA website. This effort is designed to collect arts volunteer stories from across the country, from artists teaching free classes to arts organizations joining together for a canned food drive, to show how powerful a role the arts play in community service.

Join us here every Friday, where you’ll find a new ArtCast audio blog featuring the leaders of Americans for the Arts as they focus on important and timely topics that affect you and your arts community.

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I spent last week in Vermont, which is where I grew up. I was in Middlebury, where my parents and one of my brothers live. It was achingly beautiful—the best week of the summer people kept saying to me—they’d had a lot of rain all season but the sun was fantastic all week long. 

But it was my first time back in town since the Frog Hollow closed. Frog Hollow is the Vermont State Craft Center, and while they still maintain a prime retail location on Church Street in Burlington, they closed their Middlebury location. Their spot in Middlebury was a fantastic little red building built onto the rock of a steep hillside on Mill Street. The Otter Creek Falls roared outside the picture window.   Whether I was buying or just looking, I would go there every time I visited home. Read the rest of this entry »

The Aversion to Risk

Posted by Adam Thurman On September - 8 - 2009No comments yet

To have a successful career in the arts you have to understand risk aversion.

Here’s the best definition of risk aversion I have ever heard and it is particular to the performing arts: Most people, when given the option to attend a performing arts event are more scared that the performance is going to be disappointing then they are excited that the performance is going to be good.

When we approach the public with our work, they immediately ask themselves, “is this worth my time and money?” And the default answer to that question is “no” until we prove otherwise.

That means the burden of proof is on us. Many of us don’t understand this. Read the rest of this entry »

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MusicianCorpsMusic National Service (MNS) is a nonprofit enterprise that recently launched MusicianCorps, a domestic “musical Peace Corps,” in four American cities. MusicianCorps recruits, trains and places talented musicians in under-resourced schools, low-income communities and health care settings  for a year of “music public service.” The goal of the organization is to promote service through the arts, strengthen 21st century skills, and bring diverse communities together through music.

Follow this link to the site to read more about this volunteer project.

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.