Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2014

Posted by Randy Cohen On March - 20 - 2014
Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen

There is an old quote attributed to John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich:

“If any man will draw up his case, and put his name at the foot of the first page, I will give him an immediate reply. Where he compels me to turn over the sheet, he must wait my leisure.”

This was the charge given to me by a business leader who needed to make a compelling case for government and corporate arts funding:

“Keep it to one page, please,” was his request. “I can get anyone to read one page.”

With the 2014 arts advocacy season upon us, the following is my updated “Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts.”

  • Which of these would you rank as #1?
  • Do you have a #11 to add?
  • Tell us in the comments below!

You can download this handy 1-pager here.

1. Arts promote true prosperity. The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts help us express our values, build bridges between cultures, and bring us together regardless of ethnicity, religion, or age. When times are tough, art is salve for the ache.

2. Arts improve academic performance. Students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, and lower drop-out rates—benefits reaped by students regardless of socio-economic status. Students with 4 years of arts or music in high school average 100 points better on their SAT scores than students with just one-half year of arts or music. Read the rest of this entry »

Assessing Cultural Infrastructure

Posted by G. Martin Moeller, Jr. & Scott Kratz On April - 2 - 2013
Scott Kratz

Scott Kratz

Most of the world’s great cultural capitals emerged organically through a virtuous cycle in which creative people flocked to prosperous cities, where they helped to create or expand prominent cultural institutions, which in turn attracted more creative people, and so on.

During the modern era, however, the historically strong correlation between economic vitality and cultural resources diminished somewhat. In some cases, new centers of economic activity developed with unprecedented speed, making it difficult for cultural institutions—which tend to have long gestation periods—to keep up. In the U.S. in particular, the migration of substantial wealth to the suburbs often left venerable urban institutions impoverished, while depriving nascent cultural organizations of the critical mass necessary for success.

The past couple of decades have been marked by a revival of interest in cultural infrastructure and a growing belief that museums, performing arts centers, libraries, programmed civic spaces and other cultural facilities can themselves foster social and economic progress.

The poster child of this trend is the Guggenheim Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry, which has been credited with the revival of a small, rather run-down industrial city in Spain. Careful analysis of economic and other data suggests that the influence of this one project is often overstated, but there can be no doubt that it was a significant catalyst for urban revival, not only because of the museum’s mission and content, but also because of its exhilarating architectural form.  Read the rest of this entry »

Lizard Brains & Other Learnings from the Preschool Classroom

Posted by Korbi Adams On March - 20 - 2013
Korbi Adams (r) with a friend.

Korbi Adams (r) with a friend.

My professional journey into early childhood education surprised me. Childsplay, the theatre for young audiences where I work, was invited to be a keynote experience at a local Head Start conference.

At this time, we were heavily focused on Drama Frames, an Arts Education Model Development and Dissemination grant program funded by the U.S. Department of Education, working with fourth through sixth grade teachers to integrate drama into writing. So we jumped into this preschool venture blind, and totally fell in love. We left the conference energized about preschool and drama. After a glimpse into the work of early childhood education (ECE), we wanted to stay.

Excited about new possibilities, we took our professional development model to The Helios Education Foundation and proposed that we revise this model for drama and literacy in the ECE classroom. They looked at us and said “no,” politely pointing out to us: “you know education, and you know drama, but you don’t know anything about preschool.” We had to agree.

What happened next changed the course of our project forever. Helios gave us an incredible opportunity. Instead of turning us down outright, they gave us a training grant. We suddenly had the luxury of 18 months to bring in experts, read books, ask questions, and observe the world of ECE!  Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Education Must Exist Beyond Evaluation, Measurement, and Standards

Posted by Rob Schultz On December - 11 - 2012

Rob Schultz

I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m only passingly familiar with many of the theories and practices of arts education. Teaching visual art classes is in my distant, hazy professional background, but my career since then has been in managing community arts education programs and the capable, expert staff who deliver them.

It’s certainly been interesting reading and discussing various approaches to comprehensive arts education over the years, how best practices are defined at any one particular time, and how new approaches redefine what we thought we already knew.

I can appreciate how valuable these theories and practices are and what results they achieve in students of varying ethnic, age, and socioeconomic diversity. Of course, there’s also been an ever-increasing focus on standardization and evaluation, in large part I suppose because of the need to meet “proof of effectiveness” requirements demanded by grantors and others in the business of providing financial support to the arts education field.

All of us were pleased when, in 1994, the National Arts Standards were adopted and our field proudly saw that the arts had been recognized and earned a place at the public education table. More recently, the Common Core State Standards arrived on the national scene, and so now we grapple with ways to make their integration and implementation a reality.

A colleague on the Arts Education Council of Americans for the Arts, Talia Gibas, recently wrote an excellent essay on the value of “shared delivery,” whereby a child is taught through three processes: a generalist classroom teacher who integrates the arts on a daily basis; an arts specialist who “hones in on skills and content specific to their art form;” and a professional teaching artist who deepens engagement. Read the rest of this entry »

KRIS Wine ‘Art of Education’ Contest Winners Unveiled

Posted by Tim Mikulski On November - 13 - 2012

As you saw in a previous ARTSblog post, Brunswick Acres Elementary School in Kendall Park, NJ was very dedicated to winning the third annual “Art of Education” contest sponsored by KRIS Wine and Americans for the Arts.

Not only did this video help them jump out to an early lead, but it helped them score the top prize of $5,000 for their arts education programs:

Even more amazingly, they secured 16,000 of the 90,000 total votes in the contest!

Art teacher Suzanne Tiedemann plans to use the funds to support her recent “Shells for NJ Shores Program” for which students will create shell-themed art to raise money for those impacted by Hurricane Sandy late last month.

In addition, 15 other schools in 9 states will receive a total of $20,000. Read the rest of this entry »

A Busy Summer for the Arts Action Fund

Posted by admin On September - 20 - 2012

The Americans for the Arts Action Fund, in partnership with NAMM: National Association of Music Merchants, The Recording Academy (GRAMMYs), and The United States Conference of Mayors partnered together to sponsor programs at both the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention with the help of the respective local arts agencies in Tampa and Charlotte (Arts Council of Hillsborough County and the Arts & Science Council).

It all began with two events in Tampa for the Republican National Convention.

The first was ArtsSPEAK, a policy forum on the future of the arts and arts education. The second was ArtsJAM, an intimate concert performance featuring national recording artists celebrating the arts.

To kick things off, Arts Action Fund President Bob Lynch welcomed RNC delegates to ArtsSPEAK in Tampa:

Later, he was joined by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who moderated the panel of elected officials, advocates and arts leaders. Featured speakers included: Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert; Mesa (AZ) Mayor Scott Smith; Hillsborough County School Board Member Doretha Edgecomb; Tampa Bay Times Marketing Director Kerry O’Reilly; and Jazz Musician/Former New York Yankee Bernie Williams.

You can listen to the full event via SoundCloud:

Read the rest of this entry »

Sara Bateman

In my first post for the Emerging Leaders Blog Salon, I discussed the need for producing collaborations and partnerships in order to elevate ourselves from arts leaders to community leaders.

If the arts are to become a cultural zeitgeist, where we can leverage our work to address the social inequities of our time, we must be open to partnerships, collaborative environments, and shared leadership.

In searching for this combination as an emerging leader, I feel it is important to not only to leverage our new perspectives and fresh energy, but also to learn from the examples of those who have already been pushing the field forth.

Throughout the past two decades, the arts have been recognized as a way to revitalize communities across the nation. We’ve seen that programs celebrating an individual community’s character, history, people, and values through art have the potential to communicate and empower a neighborhood’s voice in a manner that can create powerful place making and important systemic change.

But who is best placed to initiate and leverage this type of work? Is it a local artist, a small community center, an arts council, or a major institution?

While all mentioned above are capable and have already initiated successful community and civic engagement projects, local arts agencies in particular are in a unique place to spearhead revitalization, change, and engagement through the arts. Read the rest of this entry »

Stewardship: Taking Care

Posted by Roberto Bedoya On December - 6 - 2011

Roberto Bedoya

As an introduction to this blog post, I will be writing about Stewardship as a key to the values of the Tucson Pima Arts Council (TPAC), the community we serve, and to the cultural sector at larger because of its ethical and aesthetic dimensions.

To begin let me contextualize TPAC and Tucson a bit. TPAC is the designated local arts agency (LAA) that serves the city of Tucson and Pima County. Tucson is the second largest city in the Arizona and the metropolitan region’s population recently topped one million this year, of which 40 percent is Latino and Native American.

Pima County is the largest county in the state (which is bigger than the state of Connecticut) and is one of four Arizona counties that border Mexico. It is the home to two Native American tribes – the Tohono O’Odham and the Pascua Yaqui Nations; and numerous small towns and ranches.

Against this background, Southern Arizonans are mindful of the Sonoran desert that we live in, its heritages, its power, and its profound beauty and how these qualities informs the social imaginary that operate here. How taking care of the land and our relationships to each other are grounded in the ethos of stewardship. Read the rest of this entry »

‘The Choice is Art’ Campaign Lands NBA Star Spokesman

Posted by Tim Mikulski On August - 11 - 2011

Arizona Commission on the Arts, a long-time member of Americans for the Arts, has secured seven-time National Basketball Association all-star Grant Hill as a spokesman for their four-year public awareness campaign, The Choice is Art.

The campaign is intended to: advance the cultural conversation in Arizona; grow public understanding about the broad-spectrum benefits of arts programs, and increase arts participation in Arizona communities; and, fortify a privately-held arts endowment whose funds can be utilized in support of statewide arts programs.

The campaign began with a focus on access to arts education with Hill spreading the message in a video airing throughout the state.

In addition to being avid visual art collectors, Grant and his Grammy-nominated wife Tamia support arts education for their children, as well as all the children of Arizona: Read the rest of this entry »

Shopping Around Arts & Business Partnerships

Posted by Kate Marquez On May - 18 - 2011

Kate Marquez

There is no question the arts are essential to build community in dynamic, lasting ways. However, arts organizations are constantly defending this concept. Unfortunately, in today’s economic climate it seems the best way to keep the arts alive is to attach monetary terms to their worth.

Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA) has found there is more to gain than lose by venturing down this avenue and building lasting partnerships with businesses, for the sake of preserving art and supporting artists and musicians.

When local government funding was no longer available, due to budget cuts, SAACA turned to the business community to collaborate on events and programs. SAACA began to build arts-related partnerships, creating benefits for all parties that continue to unfold and grow.  Read the rest of this entry »

Improving Lives Through Community Arts Education

Posted by Rob Schultz On May - 17 - 2011

Rob Schultz

As an arts administrator with responsibility for community arts education programs, it’s too easy to get caught up in the routine side of management: revenue, expenses, supervising staff, policies, procedures, publicity, and the rest. While necessary, these are merely tools to reach the more crucial and satisfying aspect of community arts education: improving people’s lives and helping them be happy.

In Mesa, AZ, our community arts education programs are fairly comprehensive, and growing.

In 2005, through a “Quality of Life” half-cent sales tax increase approved in 1998 by our citizens, Mesa completed a $99.8 million arts complex just a few blocks north of the original Arts Center site. Because our arts education classes had grown over the years and demand was high, the new Mesa Arts Center’s design included 14 fully-equipped visual and performing arts studios on two floors in two buildings, including an 8,000 square-foot ceramics studio and kiln courtyard.  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

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

Taking Communities to the Next Level

New Methods & Models

Public Art

Best Practices

Evaluation

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.