Have an Impact: Write an Editorial.

Posted by John Abodeely On July - 8 - 2009

Editorials in local or regional newspapers–in print or online–can help to sway thinking. They can impact newspaper staff, elected officials seeking to know what their constituents want, peer community members, and anyone else who reads.

Ohio arts leader Dennison Griffith wrote a great one about the need to include the arts in STEM education work (STEM is the wonk’s shorthand for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Well done, Dennison! An excerpt:

Without the arts and humanities — design, cultural anthropology, history and social studies, music, theater, visual art and visual literacy, writing — we will educate a generation that lacks historical and humanistic context, and the emotive capacity for inspired flashes of intuitive assessment that is the wellspring of innovation.

Eloquently, Griffith argues for the practical inclusion (to provide all those business and science workers with the creativity and innovation necessary to make serious progress), as well as the less tangible ones (humanity, context, history, self-knowledge).

I’d say borrow this guy’s work, write your own editorial, and see if you can sway some locals yourself.

Also, you can find great case making data and sample letters/op-eds/etc. in the NASAA Research Based Communications Toolkit. It’s a wonderful resource. Kudos to NASAA’s staff and the state arts education leaders it serves for putting it together and giving to the world.

NY State Senator for the Arts in Schools

Posted by John Abodeely On July - 7 - 2009

New York State Senator Jose Serrano (D-28) wrote a compelling op-ed in the Gotham Gazette about the importance of arts education, even in a time of economic distress.

It’s stunning and wonderful to read an eloquent and informed piece by such a high-ranking and powerful public leader. What’s better than his educated opinions in support of the arts? Reading about the actions he’s already taken to help put the arts back in NY’s schools.

Here are some choice bits.

Perhaps it would be prudent to teach the arts only when we are confident that our young people can read, write and count proficiently, and when our society is generally more prosperous. In other words, is arts education significant, especially in a time of economic distress?

The issue of arts education brings us to the basic question of what type of society we wish to build. Today’s eighth graders are the next generation of civic and business leaders. The cultural heritage of the state of New York, be it visual, architectural or musical, will be in their hands. If we want future generations to appreciate and see value in architectural icons like the Brooklyn Bridge, music forms like jazz and salsa, and painters like Edward Hopper, we need to introduce young people to them now. No matter what their ethnic, cultural or class background, a sound arts education strengthens our children’s connection to their communities and to broader society. Read the rest of this entry »

Summer Arts Simple & Easy, for the Kids of Los Angeles

Posted by MacEwen Patterson On June - 19 - 2009

Donations-based summer school for the disenfranchised…

- Guest Post by Anna B. Scott

Don't let this be us

Don't let this be us

On May 29th, The Los Angeles Unified School District was forced to cut its summer school session for all elementary, middle school and most high school students. According to a CBS2.com report: “The district says the move is expected to affect more than 225,000 students and save about $34 million.”

We all know that in the long run, this move will cost not only the district, but the city and most importantly the families and their children significantly more than $34 million.

Instead of sitting around and anxiously awaiting crowded parks, beaches, malls, and maybe even a bit of mayhem (Los Angeles City College also cut its summer session), people across the city are looking for ways to take action. Some are marching, others are on hunger fasts, others are pounding on every door they can find at LAUSD Headquarters, still others are ringing phones off the hook in Sacramento and the Mayor’s Office.  United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) held a special meeting on June 13th for parents affected by the summer school cut, but there does not seem to be a report up yet on their website.

Read the rest of this entry »

Details about the San Diego Win for Arts Ed (From Arts Watch)

Posted by John Abodeely On June - 17 - 2009

Arts and arts ed consultant and one of the San Diego arts ed advocacy masterminds, Victoria Saunders, gave an interview to the California Alliance for Arts Education. It’s posted on CAAE’s Facebook site. This story is so great, it gave me goosebumps. She says, “I told myself, if the Visual and Performing Arts Department goes away and I didn’t do anything to try to prevent that from happening, I will regret it for the rest of my life. If we lose it and we try at least we know that we tried and that we stood up for something we believe in.”

Here’s an awesome slice:

We also created a Facebook fan page to help build community support and share information. Then we combed through our Facebook fans to find out who supported our cause. I discovered that one of our “fans” was the brother of one of the school board members. That was useful information. In some cases, we got in touch with our fans to find out more about why they supported our issue. That helped us understand who we could leverage to help plead our cause.

For example, one of our Facebook fans was a former head of the local taxpayer’s association and now he’s an independent political consultant. I wrote to him and asked him about his interest in this issue. He wrote back and said that he has two kids in school, one in the band, and he’s always been a supporter of the arts. We had coffee and I asked for his advice. He suggested a media event emphasizing that we needed publicity.

I don’t do media. So I asked around for advice. I contacted a colleague who specializes in public relations. We put together a brief for her, and in 48 hours, she helped us pull together a media event. She told us that it is important to have strong visuals. So the VAPA Director helped get kids there – theatre students came in costume; arts students made banners, and musicians brought instruments. The Guild of Puppetry brought some huge puppets, including one Day of the Dead character.

Read the rest of this entry »

What's working in Los Angeles

Posted by MacEwen Patterson On June - 11 - 2009

One of the things I’m most excited to use this space for is to highlight wins. My most recent post here was ages ago and many of you offered comments, notes and feedback on what is working for you.

Art School in Los Angeles

Art School in Los Angeles

This post is inspired by one such comment by Celia Castellanos in East Los Angeles.

Today I am proud to highlight and focus attention on a remarkable accomplishment taking place in a city that I feel is easily misunderstood.

From the outside LA is easy to see as an urban sprawl of endless strip malls and continual consumerism. But when you are here long enough, or fortunate enough to have a seasoned cultural guide the landscape takes on a whole new dimension.

There are many unmarked diamonds hidden beneath and behind all the common diorama. It’s okay if you don’t believe me. I hated this place when I moved here. Because I was ignorant. My favorite “curated guide to Los Angeles” lives at Kristin’s List.

But I digress.

Read the rest of this entry »

On June 10, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which sets the initial funding level for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), approved a $15 million increase for the NEA in its FY 2010 spending bill, setting it on a path towards final House consideration. Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA) has once again championed the arts and culture and proposed an increase in funding.

Currently funded at $155 million, this increase would bring the agency’s budget to $170 million. In his statement, Chairman Dicks referenced the Arts Advocacy Day hearings the subcommittee held as demonstrating that “the endowments are vital for preserving and encouraging America’s arts and cultural heritage.”  On Arts Advocacy Day, Americans for the Arts presented a panel of witnesses before Chairman Dicks’ Appropriations Subcommittee calling for a significant increase in funding for the NEA.  Witnesses included Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center Wynton Marsalis, singer-songwriter Josh Groban, legendary singer Linda Ronstadt, Reinvestment Fund CEO Jeremy Nowak, and Americans for the Arts President and CEO Robert Lynch. Watch video from that panel here.

The FY 2010 Interior Appropriations bill will next go to full committee and then to the House floor for final consideration where your help may be needed to defend against floor amendments attempting to cut this increase. We must now put pressure on the Senate to match this funding level. Please take two minutes to visit the Americans for the Arts E-Advocacy Center to send a letter to your Members of Congress letting them know that the arts are important to you!

Declaration of Arts Ed Rights

Posted by John Abodeely On June - 9 - 2009

The dynamos at the Oregon Arts Commission put out this poster declaring the rights of all students to learn creativity, creatively. An excerpt:

When in the Life of an Oregon Child it becomes necessary to advance beyond Reticence, beyond a lapse in Personal Vision, or a loss of Innate Genius resident in the growing Mind, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth that confident station to which the process of Discovery shall entitle each Young Citizen, a respect for the Benefit of all Oregonians requires that we declare Certain Principles of learning that impel this Life.

We hold early Creative Experience to be indelible, and that all children need be offered, equally and abundantly, certain Rights that secure access to the formative Encounters of Art—and that among these are making original Work, savoring creative Practice, and the Pursuit of one’s own generous Vision and articulate Voice…

The opener goes on, in no less a dramatic fashion than the Declaration of Independence itself.

The best part, IMHO, are the themes:

  1. theme one: arts education allows for expression and creativity.
  2. theme two: arts education addresses multiple larning styles which may be missing in other academic areas.
  3. theme three: arts education developet critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.

…and more. There are ten in all. And they are elegant and compelling. Well done, Oregon!

The full read: http://www.oregonartseducationcongress.org/assets/declaration_poster.pdf.

Arts Education: Capability and Opportunity

Posted by Merryl Goldberg On June - 8 - 2009

Kids are incredibly capable…..especially given the chance and the opportunity. I often am reminded of how fortunate I am to be doing what I do – which is both being an artist, and working with kids, university students, and teachers in engagement with the arts. As such,  I am privileged and  I witness to young people’s capability on nearly a daily basis. 

I recently attended the season finale of the San Diego Youth Symphony, which featured Andy Leu, Young Artist in Residence for the university center I run called Center ARTES.  This was Andy’s last performance with the orchestra before going off to college. He is however, for anyone who reads this and living in southern CA, going to perform Sunday June 14th at 6:00, at the magnificent Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad CA.

The orchestra concert was amazing and to see kids perform with such dedication, feeling, passion, technique, and finesse is inspiring.  No doubt these kids are fortunate to have a dedicated and talented conductor, Jeff Edmonds, who pushes them, inspires them, and supports them. They also have parents who have encouraged and supported them, as well as probably had a few arguments related to practice time!

Having returned energized by the orchestra, I am able to expand on my last week’s blog focus that described the teaching and encouragement of passion in children as a must.  In one of those serendipity moments that occur fairly naturally when our eyes remain open, I was fortunate to connect a talented, passionate, and kind-hearted actor, Kim Rhodes to Carol Channing and Harry Kullijian.  Anyone reading this blog with children in elementary school will immediately know this actor, for she plays Carey Martin, the mom to Zack and Cody, on the Suite Life of Zack and Cody.  What they don’t know is her deep commitment to kids and their pursuit of an education. Read the rest of this entry »

Texas Hangs onto Arts Education

Posted by John Abodeely On June - 5 - 2009

San Diego isn’t the only place that’s celebrating the survival of arts education this week. Texas is happy too. 

GoArts.com reports that  Texas has retained its one-year fine arts graduation requirement and added a one-year requirement for middle school graduation. The same legislation increases the number of high school electives to six, allowing for more in-depth course of study in fine arts. 

As part of the retention, the bill creates the allowance that the fine arts credit be met with arts study during or out of school. This provision is sometimes thought as diluting quality education, since off-campus programs might not adhere to standards or other public education quality control measures. The bill is also creating a fine arts “distinction” for high schools. The distinction is an accolade that the state may confer upon particular high schools for their success in, in this case, fine arts education. Arts teachers and arts administrators have been asked to create the criteria by which high schools will be judged.

Well done, Texas!

The Ethics of Cutting Arts Education

Posted by John Abodeely On June - 4 - 2009

Blogger, evaluation expert, professor, and consultant Dr. Patricia Saraniero writes about the arts education and ethics. Her latest entry discusses the “ethical ramifications of cutting arts from schools.”

It’s well-reasoned, well-researched and well-written. I’d suggest a good once-over for any arts education supporter who appreciates a good intellectual argument.  Here’s a lovely excerpt:

The reality for children from low-income communities is that they don’t have access to many if any arts experiences or education outside the school day. School is their best shot at getting this. By denying poor children exposure to and education in the arts during the school day we immediately begin to limit their future options. We limit their creative and artistic literacy. We literally deprive them of a way to communicate with and understand the world… The arts are part of the escape route from poverty. They allow students to imagine other possibilities, to understand the complexities and nuances of the world and of life, and to communicate their thoughts, beliefs and ideas.

Well said!

The full blog post is here.

Local Advocacy in San Diego Saves the Arts

Posted by John Abodeely On June - 3 - 2009

A group of dedicated and inventive parents, teachers, and arts professionals saved the arts education work of the Office of Visual and Performing Arts at the San Diego Unified School District yesterday in a 4-1 vote.

With much of the leg work done by Victoria Saunders’ homemade arts education advocacy web page, and huge support from dozens of others within the San Diego district, the school board chose not to cut any more dollars than had already been cut. Just a week ago, they were considering an elimination of the office.

The work of the SDUSD VAPA office is lynchpin in creating equal access to arts education for all students–regardless of income level. They work to ensure that teacher quality is high and that arts instruction is standards-based and sequential. They support schools, principals, arts teachers, and classroom teachers in making sure that the students these educators serve are getting the instruction they deserve. Its elimination would strike a blow at quality assurance and parity in arts education for students in classrooms.

The final takeaway for some wasn’t so specific: “Don’t mess with the creative kids.”

A Teacher's Appeal for Arts Education

Posted by John Abodeely On June - 1 - 2009

A colleague sent me this brilliant letter advocating for arts education. It uses financial, ethical, and socioeconomic arguments for retaining the Visual and Performing Arts office of the San Diego County Office of Education. And each point is research-based. As the sender noted, “I think it takes the cake for most inventive and well researched. ” Thanks to our tipster, Victoria, for keeping Americans for the Arts and our readers up-to-date.

May 31, 2009

Members of the Board:

In the face of unprecedented financial hardship, the Board of Education is charged with the unenviable task of meeting the needs of the public while concurrently addressing budgetary limitations. Given this economic climate, it is understood by all parties involved that concessions must be made in order to protect the integrity of the educational experiences provided to San Diego’s youth.

With this in mind, I must adamantly insist that the board not proceed in considering the elimination of the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) program. There are a number of grounds that suggest that the elimination of such a program from the district would prove to be both financially and educationally ill conceived.

The elimination of the Visual and Performing Arts Department will, according to district figures (i.e. the entire VAPA budget), save approximately $3.2 million dollars for the 2009-10 academic year. While the financial benefit of this will help meet the needs of the immediate budgetary constraints, the long-term effects of this decision will far outweigh the short-term benefits.

Read the rest of this entry »

What Connects Us All

Posted by John Abodeely On May - 29 - 2009

Teaching artist, arts leader, and good guy Eric Booth has penned an article on that bitty thing that connects all humans; that thing that keeps the arts alive whether the Endowment flourishes or falls; that nut of humanity that created Lasceaux, Cosi fan Tutti, and The Gates. And to illuminate this sprig of magic, he starts with particle theory. I read it and thought, “That’s so cool.”

An excerpt:

In order to unify our disparate arts, we need to find the quintessential elements of that human experience. We need to identify the fundamental particle or particles at the basis of the attraction, a Higgs boson for the human movement toward the artistic experience. And if we can agree around that unifying principle, I believe we can begin to answer the … challenge in a powerful way, by experimenting boldly to bring people into the common, universal, highly-valued human experience of art. Not just those who already value the arts, but also those who aren’t in the club and don’t think about or care about the arts, yet yearn for fullness in their lives. We need to move the experience of art to the center of our intention, and reclaim Homo sapiens’ cultural birthright of artistic engagement.

http://www.springboardforthearts.org/blog/2009/05/finding-smallest-unifying-particle-in.html

Tagged with:

The following is an email letter sent to an indivdual quoted in a regional NY paper on the arts’ being of no value to prisoners in future employment efforts.

Dear Mr. Walker-

I would like to offer a perspective in response to the article “Inmate’s Show Won’t Go On” in the Times Herald-Record online, dated May 17, 2009. My hope is to illuminate the simple fact that the arts and arts education mean jobs.

The article notes that you called the prisoner’s original theatre piece “a blatant waste of manpower and funding.” It also noted that you asked, “How many of these medium-security convicts do you think will go to Broadway and get a job?” Fortunately, Americans for the Arts has conducted some research to answer your question. Read the rest of this entry »

Mission Binding

Posted by Adam Thurman On May - 20 - 2009

Sometimes I think a mission statement isn’t worth the keystrokes you type them with. But then I’m reminded of what a well thought out mission statement does. A great mission statement limits your choices.

Think about it.  Running an arts organization, hell . . . running a life  . . . is about making choices.

Should we perform at this venue or that? That play or this play? This dancer or that dancer? That gallery or the other gallery?

Sometimes those decisions are easy. Sometimes they are incredibly difficult.

If your mission statement is solid, it should be your guide through those tough choices.  That’s why the vague, pointless mission statements that populate our field are so harmful . . . Read the rest of this entry »