Making the Case for the Arts Session - #AFTA11

It is now more important than ever to defend funding and preservation of the arts. This was the subject of “Making the Case for the Arts,” a session at this year’s Americans for the Arts convention.

While many reasons for supporting the arts were addressed, Randy Cohen, Vice President of Research and Policy at Americans for the Arts, presented research mostly on the significance of the arts with regard to education, the economy, personal development, and healthcare.

Education. Studies show that, regardless of income level, students who are highly active in the arts are less likely to drop out of school by 10th grade (1.4 percent vs. 4.8 percent). Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Not ‘What Future?’, It’s ‘What a Future!’

Posted by Ken Busby On June - 21 - 2011

Ken Busby

The Americans for the Arts Annual Conference just wrapped up in San Diego. It was terrific!

On the plane from Tulsa, I had begun writing my blog for this week. I had just received an urgent e-mail from the Arts Action Fund that immediate action was needed to oppose any effort to terminate arts education as currently proposed in H.R. 1891, the “Setting New Priorities in Education Spending Act.”

I had dutifully written my congressman, using the step-by-step process from the Action Fund website, personalizing my message with anecdotes from my organization, and adding my voice to thousands of others who have written or will write to their congressman or congresswoman on this important issue.

As I was sitting on the plane, thinking about why the arts always seem to be under attack given the mountains of data and research that we have that prove that arts education improves student behavior, keeps students in school longer, improves SAT scores by an average of 100 points, etc., I began writing this blog. It was filled with the reasons why the arts matter. Read the rest of this entry »

I Have A Problem…A Civic Engagement Problem

Posted by Danielle Brazell On June - 21 - 2011

Danielle Brazell

I run a local arts advocacy organization in a small fishing village on the west coast that’s home to 10 million people, 88 cities, and 81 school districts in a geography that spans thousands of square miles.

Yes, my little fishing village (aka Los Angeles) is massive!

Our advocacy approach has been high-tech/high-touch advocacy approach and is focused on three critical issue areas:

•    Arts Education
•    Cultural Economy
•    Civic Engagement

Within this context, I constantly ask the question: How can we connect more people to advocate for the arts in their community? I think the answer lies somewhere between community organizing and community development. Read the rest of this entry »

Sending An Arts Message to the President

Posted by Sheryl Oring On June - 20 - 2011

Penny Ross eyed my “I Wish to Say” office from across the room and I beckoned her over and invited her to dictate a postcard to the President.

It was early in the morning at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in San Diego, and Ms. Ross clearly had something to say.

She started her postcard to the White House like this: “I live in Chandler, Arizona. Arizona has eliminated all of the funding for the arts.”

Ms. Ross went on to tell me that she’d been teaching art to junior high students for 12 years, but that her job was just eliminated. “They don’t want to spend money on art supplies,” she said. “But the annual budget was $500. And that served 1,000 students.” Read the rest of this entry »

Well, I Do Declare: Studying Arts Not A Major Mistake

Posted by Breena Loraine On June - 18 - 2011

Higher Education Peer Group Session - AFTA11

I have the great privilege of attending this year’s Americans for the Arts Annual Convention as a student representative of San Diego State University. As a student, I was excited to attend the Higher Education Peer Group.

During the session, the conversation gravitated toward the difficult decision college students face as they declare their major. In a fickle economic environment and uncertain job market, students may be deterred from choosing to major in their true passion—music, dance, theater, art, photography, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

Reporting from San Diego

Posted by Sally Gaskill On June - 17 - 2011

Sally Gaskill

Yesterday morning I happened to walk down the hall and saw a sign for a “Higher Education Peer Group” session. I am an arts administrator who works in higher education, so I hoped the session would be open to anyone, and I was in luck. I immediately recognized the person in charge: the bow-tied Ron Jones, newly appointed president of the Memphis College of Art.

In Ron’s previous position as Dean of the Arts at the University of South Florida, he had spoken out about the need for data on the people who graduate with arts degrees from our colleges and universities. He had, in fact, become a poster child for the research project I manage at Indiana University – the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project – and is quoted on the SNAAP brochure as follows:  “Accountability is our future, and SNAAP is providing data that heretofore we made up or assumed.”  Read the rest of this entry »

New Coalition Moving Forward with Arts Education Standards

Posted by Tim Mikulski On June - 13 - 2011
Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

Editor’s Note: For the latest on the national arts education standards movement, read this post by Arts Education Council Member Lynne Kingsley published on 9/20/11!

Late last week, it was announced that a coalition of arts education groups will begin revising the 1994 National Standards for Arts Education, with a plan in place to have completed standards ready in 2012.

The process, which began in May 2010 with a two-day meeting that I attended here in D.C., will now continue under the governance of 8 organizations: American Alliance for Theatre and Education; Arts Education Partnership; Educational Theatre Association; The College Board; MENC-The National Association for Music Education; National Art Education Association; National Dance Education Organization; and State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education.

According to the press release, the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCCAS):

“will make the creation of the new arts standards an inclusive process, with input from a broad range of arts educators and decision-makers. The revised standards will be grounded in arts education best practice drawn from the United States and abroad, as well as a comprehensive review of developmental research. Read the rest of this entry »

Bringing Arts Education Home – San Diego Style

Posted by Victoria Plettner-Saunders On June - 10 - 2011

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

Just as I’m preparing for a convention session about how attendees can create their own local arts education advocacy networks based on a model we’ve been using in San Diego and throughout California, I get word from a key district decision maker about their need for some information that may help them take some critical steps to avoid big cuts to the visual and performing arts department budget.

This is a milestone for our newly formed San Diego Alliance for Arts Education. We are being recognized by district decision makers for our ability to help them make more informed decisions to keep arts education in San Diego schools. While we’re not out of the woods yet, I certainly feel a victory for the role that the Alliance’s carefully planned advocacy is playing. Read the rest of this entry »

Kansas: Unexpected Attempt at Veto Override Unsuccessful

Posted by Tim Mikulski On June - 2 - 2011
Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

Yesterday, members of the Kansas House of Representatives unexpectedly attempted to override Gov. Brownback’s line item veto of funding for the Kansas Arts Commission, but the body fell short of the needed votes to do so.

Here are more details from the Associated Press:

“The vote in the House was 50-44. But legislators who wanted to override the veto needed a two-thirds majority, or 84 of 125 votes. Thirty-one House members were absent. That’s not unusual for the day the Legislature sets aside for its adjournment ceremony, because typically no substantial business is conducted...Of the 92 Republicans, 23 voted “yes,” 44 voted “no,” and 25 did not vote. Of the 33 Democrats, 27 voted “yes” and six did not vote.”

The article also lists the vote tally by legislator name. Read the rest of this entry »

Memorial Day Reflections of an Arts Educator

Posted by Jessica Wilt On June - 1 - 2011

Jessica Wilt

The arrival of Memorial Day represents honoring the men and women who lost their lives serving our country and celebrating the unofficial start of summer with family and friends. For me, Memorial Day also marks that time of year when another school season draws to a close.

As the temperature starts to rise and thoughts of swimming pools and summer vacation dance around in our heads, Alice Cooper’s rock anthem “Schools Out” becomes a lively soundtrack for the final countdown.

Cooper was inspired to write the song when asked, “What’s the greatest three minutes of your life?” After mentioning Christmas morning, Cooper responded: “the last three minutes of the last day of school when you’re sitting there and it’s like a slow fuse burning.” I’m in no way condoning the ideas of “school’s out forever, school’s been blown to pieces.”

I think you know where I’m going with this. It’s been a very challenging year for the arts and I will do all that I can to ensure the fuse that is arts education burns a little while longer. Read the rest of this entry »

Do People Really Sing in the Rain?

Posted by Una McAlinden On May - 27 - 2011

Una McAlinden

Yes – when you live in Washington State! With more cloudy days than sunshine – you often have to sing, dance, act, and create in the rain! Yes, these activities are usually happening in buildings, but the rain is ubiquitous. And during our coldest wettest spring on record, we’re singing the praises of the arts this month as Washington State celebrates Arts Education Month in May.

From the grand Olympic mountains to the lush rolling hills of the Palouse, support of arts education is heard in harmony from the Governor, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the School Directors Association, city and county governments, state and local PTAs, local media outlets, and from communities across the state.

ArtsEd Washington (the Washington Alliance for Arts Education) led the efforts to begin highlighting and recognizing the importance of arts education back in 2006 by memorializing an “Arts Education Week” during the third week in May.  Read the rest of this entry »

Federal Arts Education Program UPDATE

Posted by Gladstone Payton On May - 26 - 2011

Gladstone Payton

Yesterday, the House Education and Workforce Committee voted to approve HR 1891, the resolution sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) that terminates the authorization of 43 U.S. Department of Education programs, including the Arts in Education program.

This bill marks the first attempt at reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), popularly know of late as “No Child Left Behind.” The Committee is promising to move several like pieces of legislation in the coming months toward remaking ESEA.

The Arts in Education program is invaluable to many communities across the country as it funds not only professional development opportunities for arts educators in high-poverty areas, but it also provides money to model programs that support “the enhancement, expansion, documentation, evaluation, and dissemination of innovative, cohesive models that demonstrate effectiveness in: integrating into and strengthening arts in the core elementary and middle school curricula; strengthening arts instruction in those grades; and improving students’ academic performance, including their skills in creating, performing, and responding to the arts.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Federal Arts Education Program In Danger, Again

Posted by Tim Mikulski On May - 24 - 2011

*For an update to this story, visit a newer post by Gladstone Payton.

Just 11 days ago, U.S. House Education Subcommittee Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) introduced legislation (H.R. 1891) that seeks to terminate 43 federal education programs, including the Arts in Education program at the U.S. Department of Education.

The bill is now coming up for a vote in the House Education Committee tomorrow.

This measure is more serious than the annual funding bills that have recently threatened to de-fund arts education, as HR 1891 would permanently strip policy language out of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that allows the Arts in Education program to be funded annually.  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 »

Jeanie Duncan

(Continued from Part 1 posted earlier this week)

Process: Constituency Research Yields Insight

As we surveyed our situation, we knew our approach could not be a typical strategic planning process. Board and staff discussion charted an outside-in strategy for data gathering. Our selected consultant was a branding, PR, and market research firm whose representatives reminded us from the beginning that “it doesn’t matter what you think. What matters is what your customer – the community – thinks.”

With the potential for change to be significant, it was essential that the United Arts Council of Greensboro (UAC) communicate openly, early, and often to the constituents who relied on our funding, as well as their core audiences and supporters. For some agencies,our investment comprised as much as 20 percent of their contributed revenue. Regardless of the percentage, the resource was critical; we wanted to mitigate negative impact while giving historically funded agencies ample lead time for planning and preparation.  Read the rest of this entry »