Posted by Todd Eric Hawkins On November - 4 - 2014
Todd Eric Hawkins

Todd Eric Hawkins

I became involved with the Americans for the Arts Emerging Leader Network in order to form stronger relationships with arts leaders on a local and national level. Over the past few years, the network has given me the opportunity to forge vitally important connections, both personally and professionally. In addition, the experience has provided me with the inspiration and tools to develop who I am as a leader.

For the past three years, I have had the privilege of serving on the Emerging Leader Council, a nationally elected body of individuals that advise Americans for the Arts on how best to serve the next generation of arts leaders. As a member, I was honored on multiple occasions to sit around a table with 14 of the most promising arts leaders I have ever met. Their dedication, wisdom, and first-hand knowledge of the struggles facing all of us as we grow as leaders, and their eagerness to find solutions and build a stronger future have been invaluable to my current and future success. Read the rest of this entry »

“This Must Be Your Down Time!”

Posted by Janet Starke On July - 29 - 2014
Janet Starke

Janet Starke

Raise your hand if you’ve heard this one. It is the inevitable statement that numerous friends and colleagues make to me each summer (most still trying to determine precisely what I do for a living).

“So, what do you do when school is out?”

“This must be your slow time of year, right, when the schools are out?”

Of course, they are well-intentioned and demonstrating genuine interest in our work and what we (actually) do, but the simple answer is NO! Read the rest of this entry »

Serving on the Arts Education Council at Americans for the Arts

Posted by Alex Sarian On October - 30 - 2013
Alex Sarian

Alex Sarian

Arts Education, by the very nature of our work, is a hybrid profession.  As such, I’m sure many an arts education administrator or fundraiser can share tales of woe about having to explain to board members or funders how our work is both artistic and educational – a task which only a few people, in my opinion, have managed to accomplish in our field.  But where some people see confusion as a result of not being able to label, others see collaboration… the overlap of a Venn diagram.  What fascinates me about our work is that we are the combination of two ecosystems and a place where community takes on a whole new meaning.

While all that sounds lovely, there are (too) few concrete places where one can achieve a professional sense of community – a space where folks can come together from different cities, organizations and professions to share, discuss and dream about what arts education can achieve.  For me, one of these places is American for the Arts – specifically, the Arts Education Network.

In 2011, a year in which many of us and our organizations were dealing with the ripple effects of a massive economic meltdown, I very quickly became overwhelmed by the sense of isolation and surprised by how most in our community quickly reverted into a survival mode that prevented us from seeing beyond the walls of our institutions.  We became so focused on making sure our organizations could make it through the crisis, we inadvertently turned our back on the solution: us.  I, along with everyone else, was starving for perspective.  Read the rest of this entry »

Old Songs, New Opportunities

Posted by Erin Gough On March - 18 - 2013
Erin Gough

Erin Gough

It is a familiar trope that early childhood teachers claim that they get as much out of teaching young ones as students get out of their lessons. They do it for the love of children, the excitement of youthful discovery, and the joy of nurturing rather than a hefty paycheck. My own mom, a longtime preschool teacher, often says she gets “paid in hugs.” But for some women in Erie, PA, early childhood instruction is a gateway to a new life.

The Old Songs, New Opportunities (OSNO) program at the Erie Museum of Art creates opportunities for refugee women to use traditional skills and cultural assets from their home countries to begin to build a career as early childhood educators. This program—one part job training, one part cultural education, and one part early education—has been transformative for the both the women who go through the museum’s training, and for the students they care for.

Through OSNO, women who were expert caregivers in their home countries and are interested in learning the ins-and-outs of the American early education process are provided with over 50 hours of accredited instruction in basic child development theory, discipline and alternatives, the role of the childcare work, and how art, music, and movement aid physical and mental development.

At the same time, these women provide exposure to and instruction of their cultural traditions to fellow OSNO trainees, and create a tapestry of song and tradition that bonds teachers with students, and teachers with one anotherRead the rest of this entry »

Remembering One of Our Own: Alyx Kellington

Posted by Jessica Wilt On August - 14 - 2012
Alyx Kellington

In loving memory of Alyx Kellington (1964-2012)

Two weeks ago the Arts Education Council at Americans for the Arts and the arts education community at-large lost a tremendously talented artist, educator, and advocate in Alyx Kellington. She passed away on July 29, 2012 near Palm Beach, FL, leaving behind an incredible career in the arts and many friends.

As the news of her death begins to settle in for so many of us, I’ve been reflecting on my last experience being in Alyx’s presence and have been asked by the Arts Education Council to share this story with you as our lasting tribute.

A few of us were fortunate to have spent 2012 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in San Antonio with Alyx—she and I were hotel roommates. That first evening together we hung out at a restaurant where an amazing Dixie Land style band was playing. She spoke of her rich and diverse experience with music growing up in Austin, TX and was quite fortunate to have been exposed to such an array of musical talent at an early age.

At the Convention opening reception, I’ll never forget how happy Alyx seemed as we watched musician after musician take the outdoor stage. She grew up listening to many of theses famous acts as a child, and now here they were all together on one stage under the canopy of a beautiful Texas night.

Alyx was like a walking Texas arts and culture history lesson where I, along with several other arts education council members, learned so much from her that week.

Only knowing her as an arts educator, many of us were surprised to learn of her amazing photojournalism career that took Alyx literally all over the world. She really lit up when she talked about photography, the people she met along the way and the places where she lived. Her beautiful and captivating photojournalism work can be found archived on her website. Read the rest of this entry »

The Intersection of Local Businesses, School Districts, & Arts Education

Posted by Victoria Plettner-Saunders On September - 13 - 2011

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

I’m a consultant in San Diego who specializes in capacity building for nonprofit arts organizations and the people who run them. I also do a fair amount of work in the realm of arts education, including currently serving as chair of the Arts Education Council at Americans for the Arts and the co-founder and chair of the San Diego Alliance for Arts Education.

It was with my “arts education hat” on that I attended a one-day symposium in San Diego called “Powering Innovation Economies” last week. One of the sessions was about the role of arts education, innovation, and the workforce.

Sarah Murr (my fellow blogger/Boeing’s Global Corporate Citizenship community investor responsible for corporate giving to the arts in Southern California) was invited to be one of the panel members. Murr is well known in Southern California’s arts education community for the huge investment she’s made on Boeing’s behalf in supporting arts education in the Orange County area. She is also an active board member of the California Alliance for Arts Education.

Unfortunately, she was ultimately unable to participate and I got an email asking if I knew of someone in the local corporate community who could take her place.

As I sat there thinking about which local corporations support arts education as part of their community investment policy for strengthening workforce development, I came up empty handed. Read the rest of this entry »

Investing in Arts Education = Investing in Innovation

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On July - 14 - 2011

Kristen Engebretsen

During our recent Arts Education Council meeting in San Diego, the council members suggested posting some blogs about the federal grant Investing in Innovation (i3) in preparation of the deadline for the next round of applications. So, for the next couple of days, Americans for the Arts will be encouraging a spotlight on the i3 program.

Expect to see some lessons learned from last year’s arts-focused grantees and links to helpful resources if you’re finishing up your application or wanting to resubmit your application from last year.

During that same meeting, the council had the pleasure of hearing Rachel Goslins, executive director of the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities (PCAH), speak via Skype about their recent Reinvesting in Arts Education report. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Integration Isn’t Enough

Posted by Katherine Damkohler On July - 6 - 2011

Katherine Damkohler

Integration across academic disciplines can strengthen a child’s learning. When teachers reinforce content through a variety of approaches it helps children retain information and fully appreciate academic concepts. However, one academic discipline cannot fully convey the fundamentals of another.

For instance, a History teacher cannot expect to effectively relate the scientific processes of an electrical current to students by teaching them the historical biographies of Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison. And yet, many educators apply this approach of substituting subject instruction to the artistic disciplines.

I have seen too many schools refrain from hiring an arts teacher because they have been lulled into thinking that training a classroom teacher to integrate the arts into their lessons serves as an acceptable substitute for bringing a full-time arts instructor on staff. Read the rest of this entry »

“I’m Just Glad I Got to Be Here and Share My Poems”

Posted by Deborah Vaughn On May - 24 - 2011
Deb Vaughn

Deb Vaughn

We live in secret cities
And we travel unmapped roads.
We speak words between us that we recognize
But which cannot be looked up.
~ “The Cities Inside Us” by Alberto Ríos

On April 28, at the tail end of the fifteenth annual National Poetry Month, 53 high school students (one from every state and territory in the United States) gathered in Washington, DC, to recite poetry. And here’s the best part: no one even looked at them funny. Every one of those students found themselves in a room full of kids exactly like them.  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 »

Welcome to the Blog Salon

Posted by Victoria Plettner-Saunders On March - 14 - 2011

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

As Chair of the Arts Education Council of Americans for the Arts, I’d like to welcome you to the first Arts Education Blog Salon of 2011.

There are always so many things to learn from our colleagues as we share blog posts and commentary on a particular theme for one full week.

I hope you have time to return to the Salon several times throughout the week (and again after it ends on Friday) and post your own thoughts or questions as they arise.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to share with you a little bit about the Arts Education Council and what our agenda for 2011 looks like.

This past January, the council met to plan its annual agenda. With a renewed focus on supporting members at the local level, we developed a rather ambitious set of activities for the year around five main themes (some of which were the result of the council’s Trends Report that has been developed over the past two years).   Read the rest of this entry »