Apologizing for the Arts

Posted by Ken Busby On March - 1 - 2011

Ken Busby

We in the arts spend a lot of time apologizing…at least I do. I find, however, that when I apologize for something, I usually can gain some empathy for my position. Let me illustrate.

If you are speaking to a congressman or senator that isn’t especially receptive to public funding of the arts or arts education, I often ask if he or she were able to participate in the arts when they were in elementary school and middle school. Invariably, in one way or another, these “adults” had some form of quality arts experiences growing up–going to the theater, attending a ballet performance, a field trip to the museum, etc. And so I ask them what that experience meant to them.

Usually, the response is something like, “It was great. I really enjoyed it!” At that point, I generally offer my apology–saying something like, “I’m sorry that your children or grandchildren won’t be able to have that same experience.” Read the rest of this entry »

ArtCast: An interview with Edward Clapp of the 20UNDER40 Project (part 1)

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On November - 13 - 2009

Take a listen to Part 1 of this podcast interview with Edward Clapp, Editor and Project Director for 20UNDER40. This conversation is a follow-up on the great discussions we had about emerging leaders in the arts during the 20UNDER40 Blog Salon on ARTSBlog, October 19-23. Edward discusses the initial actions that sparked the idea of 20UNDER40, and recounts some other discussions and debates that took place after he launched the project.

With more than 70 blog posts and 150 reader comments, the Salon offerings can still be found using the tag Salon_Oct_09.

Be sure to check back on ARTSblog for part 2 next Friday!

Host a Creative Conversation in Your Community

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On August - 28 - 2009

It’s that time of year again!  Creative Conversations and National Arts and Humanities Month are right around the corner.  Every October, in honor of National Arts & Humanities Month, Americans for the Arts partners with emerging leaders from across the country to host Creative Conversations—local gatherings and discussions that focus on pertinent topics from arts leadership to arts advocacy.  Last year, more than 1,500 emerging arts leaders participated in 43 locally hosted Creative Conversations throughout the country, and those leaders continue to be engaged at the national level.  In celebration of 2009 being the 5th Anniversary of Creative Conversations, the 10th Anniversary of the Emerging Leader Network and the 50th Anniversary of Americans for the Arts, our goal is to support communities in hosting at least 50 Creative Conversations this year.

Is someone in your community planning to host a Creative Conversation?  Are you considering it?  If so, there are a few easy steps to follow: Read the rest of this entry »

Have You Found Your Voice Today?

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On August - 24 - 2009

I’m writing this blog post immediately after reading Edward Clapp’s Open Letter to Young Arts Professionals, titled This is Our Emergency.  Edward is the editor and project director for 20UNDER40, “an anthology of critical discourse that aims to collect twenty essays about the future of the arts and arts education – each written by a young arts professional under the age of forty.”

While the 20UNDER40 project has received strong support and praise, there has also been an undercurrent of criticism (as Edward references in his letter).  However, what is more surprising – are the number of letters Edward has received from young arts professionals who have something to say and contribute – but do not feel they have the authority or courage to do so.  Is it possible that so many members of the Gen X and Gen Y generation are afraid to speak out?  What is it that we are worried about – Failure?  Criticism and judgment from our peers?  Losing our jobs?  Engaging in a debate?  Read the rest of this entry »

Local Tools: What Every Arts Ed Advocate Needs

Posted by John Abodeely On August - 5 - 2009

Americans for the Arts hosts an impressive collection of policy and advocacy resources for the arts and arts education. The following list isn’t comprehensive, but it’s tidy, quick, and includes the most likely resources you’ll need to make the case for arts education.

The following items include information for arts education professionals. It also includes docs you can print and leave behind with your principal, superintendent, district staff, fellow teachers, mayors, council members, and state leaders to help them understand why they should support the arts for all students.

Federal Priorities for Arts Education

These are one or two page briefs that are meant to be left with decision makers. They include all pertinent information to get up to speed on major topics. You can print out the PDF version to hand out. The arts ed ones are:

  1. Arts Ed and NCLB
  2. Arts Ed Funding and Research at the USDE Read the rest of this entry »

To Go to Graduate School, or Not?

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On July - 20 - 2009

A question I hear constantly from emerging leaders is “Should I go to Graduate School or Not?”  This has been a topic of conversation on the Emerging Leader Listserv, and the same question was asked during the Career360 roundtable sessions at the Americans for the Arts 2009 Convention in Seattle.  Even after all these conversations, the only answer I can provide to this question is that the choice to go to graduate school is a very individual decision.  There is no “magic formula” for a successful career.  If you choose to go back to school, you’ll likely learn some very valuable lessons, build up a network of peers, and perhaps have other doors open to you that may not be there otherwise.  However, if you decide graduate school is not the right path for you at this time, you will still be learning on the job, building up a different network of peers, and be in the job market instead of out of it. 

There are an endless amount of professional development opportunities out there, with arts management graduate degree programs being one of them.  I did choose to go back to graduate school after working for a few years.  At American University’s Arts Management program, I learned the basics of fundraising, financial management, presenting and programming, and running an arts organization.  All of these skills are necessary for an arts manager to have. 

However, now that I’ve been out of school for a bit, I’ve begun to question what the next generation of leadership would look like if in addition to being taught fundraising and financial management, we were also taught how to advocate and build relationships with city/state government.  What would our future look like if young leaders learned how to reach beyond the walls of their organizations, into their community, and understood the connection between the arts and community development?  What if we are taught today how to be true leaders in our community tomorrow?  By learning and practicing advocacy and community development skills, emerging leaders will not only be successful managers of arts organizations, we’ll have the resources necessary to communicate our organizations’ value to those who need to hear it. 

Did you graduate from an arts management degree program?  If so, what else would you have liked to see offered?  For professionals working in the field, what professional development do you need now to be successful at your job?

Um… Wow.

Posted by John Abodeely On July - 10 - 2009

Let’s hear it for spam, or mailing lists, or for the cybergods who sent an interesting announcement to me this morning. “nuPOLIS: Scalable Innovations for Communities” is a new aggregate website–blogs, news, commentary, etc. Much of it is about education and this paragraph from this article, was stunning to read:

Pause for a moment to reflect on these numbers: 51 failing schools in Boston, two dozen failing high schools in Detroit. In just two cities, that’s 75 schools with, say, 500 students each, for a total of 35,000 students–mostly low-income, minority, and immigrant kids–stuck in failing schools.

As one colleague put it, “That puts a real face on it.” Yes it does.

It’s a great article about ways in which civic leaders, elected officials, and others are trying to work around existing urban systems to improve otherwise intractable failing schools. Whatever one might say about the cause of a failing school–teacher unions, corruption, under-funding–if we are truly thinking about the kids, there is no time for discussion of blame. The men and women are making drastic, though unpopular changes are at least trying something and considering those 35,000 students, those men and women sound like heroes.

Big changes ahead for national arts policy

Posted by Sheila Smith On June - 18 - 2009

Today’s speech by Bill Ivey, former head of the NEAN was fascinating. He talked about his role in Obama’s transition team, developing an analysis for the new administration of the federal cultural agencies. Work on the transition began even before the election behind closed doors so that by the time Obama was elected they could hit the ground running. Having a specific focus on the arts within the transition team and now a detailed document of arts and culture goals for the administration means big changes ahead for national arts policy. The opportunities for the arts may be huge. It’s exciting and also a little scary. What can we do to help make positive change a reality? Connect with our public officials and work with Americans for the Arts to respond to calls for action…

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!

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 »

Sample Arts Education Advocacy Letter

Posted by John Abodeely On May - 6 - 2009

The following letter was written for parents to send in to their School Board Representatives of the San Diego Unified School District which is currently faced with the possibility of having their Visual and Performing Arts Department completely eliminated due to budget cuts.  At local street art fairs, Young Audiences of San Diego’s staff members walked around with a clipboard of letters, speaking to concerned parents about the potential cuts, and asking parents to sign the letter (listing their home address and the school their child attends).

Dear Education Board Member,

I am writing this letter to request that you remove cutting the San Diego Unified Visual and Performing Arts Department from the list of Plan B budget reductions.

By fueling a student’s imagination and creativity, the arts enhance a student’s problem-solving and critical thinking skills, which aid their learning in other subject areas.  An education in the arts exposes students to a variety of cultures while enriching their learning experience and teaching them how to be empathetic, tolerant and open to working with others, all necessary skills for success in a multi-cultural society.    Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Education Partnership Improves Participation

Posted by John Abodeely On May - 5 - 2009

The Arts Education Partnership, a major player in arts education research for the past 15 years–since its creation by the National Endowment for the Arts and the US Dept of Education–has opened a public call for session proposals for the 2009 Forum. The Forums are two day conferences held around the country and they attract the best and the brightest in arts education leadership. They have a strong regional pull but always a good national audience as well.

So pitch in. Join the national conversation. Show your stuff. If you complain about our field, here’s your chance to create solutions that your colleagues can participate in.

Submit your session proposal for the arts and 21st century learning Forum. October 2-3; MA. Submission deadline: May 29.

They’re also opening up the program design to Mass state art students, seeking submissions of art to be featured as the cover of the program of the AEP Fall National Forum. Deadline: Jun 25.