This is What Democracy Looks Like (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On August - 3 - 2011

Kristen Engebretsen

This weekend I had the pleasure of experiencing my first authentic D.C. experience—the protest. I was drawn to the Save Our Schools March because I want to believe that America can still offer all students a quality PUBLIC education.

The Save Our Schools March (SOS) was a large umbrella event for anyone who is dissatisfied with our educational system. As a parent and an arts education advocate, my dissatisfaction has grown as our curriculum has dwindled. Cutting of subjects such as the arts, social studies, and science has been, to me, one of the worst consequences of No Child Left Behind.

So, on Friday my activism began with a screening of the film, The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman. It was great to watch this film in a room full of frustrated teachers.

There was booing when Arne Duncan said that the best thing that happened to New Orleans schools was Hurricane Katrina. There was hissing when Michelle Rhee bragged about her own private school experience. There was cheering when the teachers in the film spoke about public schools’ responsibility to educate the poorest and neediest of students. Read the rest of this entry »

The 53rd Street Community Garden

The goal of the 53rd Street Community Garden was to create a sustainable community garden with colorful artistic components and outdoor classrooms. Students would utilize this outdoor space to discover scientific exploration of plants, insects, and animals, while fostering a respect for the neighborhood.

Although this project is still pretty fresh and constantly evolving, we have seen an amazing community effort in building a space where education, cultivation, and neighborhood come together. It has been beautiful to have a place where teachers can bring their classrooms outside to plant vegetables, where community members tend to their plots and interact with the youth, and where two schools that rarely socialize now have some common ground.

We are currently working with the school on plans for developing a culinary arts program, installing a gazebo, and scheduling a community harvest event. We are excited about expanding the school/community garden model, which we’ve named Growing Great Gardens (3G), to other Milwaukee Public Schools. Read the rest of this entry »

The Relationship Between Innovation and Impact

Posted by Ryan Hurley On July - 27 - 2011

Students display a bench they created for their school/community garden.

I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in San Diego. One of the most engaging ideas that I took home with me was the relationship between innovation and impact.

We talked about how these two ideas are often assumed to go hand-in-hand and although many innovative ideas do have significant impact on large groups of people, sometimes innovation is for the sake of innovation.

One member of my table used the analogy of the space pen – how NASA spent tons of money and research developing a zero gravity pen that could write in space, which is a cool, I want one, but pencils always seemed to work just fine in the past. Was this innovative, probably, did it have a significant impact on a large group of people or was it a catalyst of great purpose, probably not.

I must admit I am a bit biased on what we termed ‘The Space Pen Theory’ because of my arts education background. We are trained to weigh much more heavily on the impact of a project than the novelty of the idea, not to say that we aren’t often able to bring those two elements together but for educational purposes, the process is often more closely examined than the product.

We deliberately tried to balance impact and innovation with the 53rd Street School Community Garden Project. Community gardens and school gardens are not super fresh ideas but the fusion of the two in a project that uses the arts to engage the entire community from the inception, brings new life to both. Read the rest of this entry »

Partnerships: Envisioning Our Interdependence

Posted by Sahar Javedani On July - 26 - 2011

Sahar Javedani

As Director of Educational Programming at Pentacle in New York City, I am constantly seeking opportunities to partner with organizations that share our mission of educating students on career opportunities in the performing arts through our “Behind the Scenes” program.

Last year, we welcomed a new relationship with Exploring the Arts, Tony Bennett and Susan Benedetto’s nonprofit charitable organization. We have our long-standing relationship of eight years with Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (Exploring the Arts’ original partner school) to thank for providing the foundation for this new partnership.

I believe that we’ve created a successful model of arts education where the collaboration of a school, funding partner, and arts education provider can come to the table with a common goal of better preparing students for entering the creative workforce through hands-on and experiential learning.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Susan Benedetto, co-founder and board president of Exploring the Arts to share her perspective on cultivating relationships with new partner schools and arts education providers: Read the rest of this entry »

Enhancing Arts Education with Innovative Ideas

Posted by Ryan Hurley On July - 26 - 2011

Ryan Hurley

Hello cyberpeople. My name is Ryan Hurley and I am a part-time educator and writer, and full-time Program Coordinator for an arts education organization in Milwaukee, Wisconsin called Arts @ Large (A@L). I’m excited to share some of the things that we are doing in Milwaukee and read about the emerging ideas blooming around the country.

Arts @ Large works with school communities in Milwaukee, which often lack basic access to art and music education, to develop comprehensive arts programs in collaboration with students, teachers, staff, afterschool providers and parents. At each of our 20-25 school sites we develop a team with the above mentioned community members to develop and direct a multi-faceted arts program which includes arts-integration training for teachers, multidisciplinary artist residencies, access to art and music supplies, and opportunities for field trips into the community.

Our goal is to empower each site to use the arts to enhance the academic curriculum and the creative climate. The academic connection is essential not only because we feel it is important to enhance classroom learning through the arts but also because of the limited amount of time teachers are allowed for creative exploration due to some of the overwhelming mandates put onto school communities. Read the rest of this entry »

i3 Grantee Lessons: Studio in a School

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On July - 22 - 2011

Last year, Arts Achieve: Impacting Student Success in the Arts, won the distinction of being one of the forty-nine winners of the Investing in Innovation competition. Project applicant Studio in a School, along with project partners Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, ArtsConnection, Inc., 92nd Street Y / Harkness Dance Center, Dance Education Laboratory, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution, and the New York City Department of Education, were the recipients of this $4.4 million, 5-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Reviewers that scored this grant application gave it high marks because they felt that creating high-quality student assessments in the arts would improve arts education experiences for students, create collaborative experiences for teachers and arts professionals, and would benefit students for years to come.

One of the reviewers of this application felt that high quality arts assessments are greatly needed in today’s schools, and the use of assessments can help the arts to remain a strong part of the curriculum. Another reviewer commented that the project was highly innovative because it 1) had a strong base of community support 2) utilized professional learning communities 3) connected to the new common core standards; and 4) incorporated the use of technology for disseminating units of study, assessments, PD materials, and toolkits. Read the rest of this entry »

The Top-50 Tweets from #AFTA11: Part One

Posted by Ron Evans On July - 22 - 2011

Ron Evans

I wasn’t able to attend the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention this year, but I did get to participate in the next best thing: following the conversation on Twitter.

There were lots of great discussion and opinions. But unless you were following 24/7, you may have missed some gems.

So, I’ve gone through the entire stream of tweets using the hashtag #AFTA11 (all 2389 of them!) cut out all fat, and filtered them down to my picks for the top 50 most-useful tweets to me from AFTA 2011.

I say most useful because I wanted to separate out things that can be acted on, resources/measurements that can be explored, impactful facts and figures, and new “lightbulb ideas.”

A big thank you to these great posters for posting meaty tweets – If you like something you see, follow the author on Twitter.

So here goes, from oldest (public art pre-conference) to newest (end of conference) order… Read the rest of this entry »

White House Gathers Arts ‘Champions of Change’

Posted by Robert Lynch On July - 21 - 2011

Robert L. Lynch

On July 19, I attended a productive meeting at the White House Executive Office Building. The event, coordinated by the President’ Committee on the Arts and Humanities and the White House Office of Public Engagement, was called Champions for Change: Winning the Future Across America.

Some dozen Champions were on hand to react and provide good local examples of how arts interventions made positive change and could contribute to making the case for advancing arts education in America.

Amy Rasmussen, executive director of Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education observed that there was a faster rate of acceleration and improvement in all areas for children when they had the arts as a key part of their learning experience.

Ramon Gonzalez, the founding principal of Middle School 223-The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology in the South Bronx, discussed how the arts engaged students in his school.

His school recognizes and engages all the students as artists and makes the arts a core part of their everyday school life even though the focus of the school is on finance and technology. The result was a 93 percent increase in attendance and a greatly improved learning environment. In this school, which was started in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in New York City when it was created, there has been not even a single fight in the last two years. Read the rest of this entry »

i3 Grantee Lessons: District 75, New York City

Posted by Peggy Ryan On July - 15 - 2011

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation competition awarded District 75 (New York City’s special education district) and Manhattan New Music Project (MNMP), a $4.6 million, five-year grant to develop and implement Everyday Arts for Special Education (EASE).

EASE is a professional development program designed to improve student achievement in the areas of communication, socialization, academic learning, and arts proficiency through integrated, arts-based approaches.

EASE gives teachers tools and experience with arts-based instruction, and participating teachers learn skills and strategies across multiple arts disciplines (music, dance, visual arts, and theater) in order to integrate the arts into classroom instruction. This makes learning more accessible to special education students who struggle with more conventional instructional approaches. Read the rest of this entry »

i3 Grantee Lessons: Beaverton School District

Posted by Peggy Ryan On July - 15 - 2011

In an effort to bring Arts for Learning Lessons to 12,850 Beaverton School District (BSD) students in grades 3-5, the Beaverton School District, with project partners University of Washington, Young Audiences Arts for Learning, and Young Audiences of Oregon & Washington, was awarded a $4 million, five-year grant in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation fund.

Arts for Learning (A4L) is a literacy program that uses the creativity of the arts to raise student achievement in reading and writing, and to develop learning and life skills. A4L lessons had been implemented in classrooms around the country prior to the Beaverton School District’s i3 grant application, with the added resource of some independent evaluations of these existing lessons. Read the rest of this entry »

Narric Rome

Many Americans for the Arts members and friends may be most familiar with the grant programs of the National Endowment for the Arts, which distributes about 2,400 grants annually to arts organizations. But less familiar are the grants located at other federal agencies that represent a more non-traditional source of funding that can benefit arts organizations as well.

Over the past few years we’ve tried to capture some of these non-traditional sources by providing Federal Resource Guides that examine different agencies and grant programs that are either hidden deep in the bureaucracy, or appear to be so off topic that any time spent investigating would be a fool’s errand.

Currently there are two federal programs at the U.S. Department of Education that are relatively new and present clear and immediate possibilities for the right approach in providing support for the arts in an educational setting. Read the rest of this entry »

Are Federal i3 Grants Right for My Arts Education Program?

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On July - 15 - 2011

Kristen Engebretsen

As I had been preparing some blog posts on the topic of Investing in Innovation (i3), I decided at the very last minute to sit in on an Education Week webinar about i3.

It turns out that it was very worthwhile, as one of the featured speakers was John Bridges from Beaverton School District in Oregon, highlighting their Arts for Learning program.

The webinar accomplished much of what I had hoped to do with my blogs – disseminate information from last year’s awardees about what made their application successful and encourage (or discourage) people to apply.

It’s tough to wade through that amount of paperwork, so I hope some of the information I gathered can help you self select whether or not your program is a good fit for i3. 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 »

Taking the Hassle Out of Giving

Posted by Roger Vacovsky On July - 12 - 2011

Capital One No Hassle Giving Widget

As many of you know, Capital One has recently partnered with Alec Baldwin and Americans for the Arts to promote nonprofit arts funding with their No Hassle Giving Site.

Now, you can get potential funders closer to the GivingSite and supporting the arts with a Capital One Custom Charity Widget on your webpage, Facebook site, etc. It’s an easy and effective way to allow those that believe in our cause to advocate for the arts help to support us in these seemingly tumultuous economic times for artists and arts professionals.

Show that you believe in Americans for the Arts’ and Mr. Baldwin’s unified vision to keep  arts funding of the utmost public importance by following just a couple of quick steps. Read the rest of this entry »

Inspiring Your Inner Artist

Posted by Michael R. Gagliardo On July - 12 - 2011
Mike Gagliardo

Mike Gagliardo

Quick – raise your hand if you got into your job in the arts for the money.

That’s what I thought.

Now raise your hand if you spend a majority of your work day worrying about and dealing with your budget, stressing over where the cash to fund the next big project is going to come from, or simply wondering where and how hard you’re going to have to squeeze to make payroll.

Hands down.

The truth of the matter is this – we’re so damned consumed with trying to scrape together every penny that we’ve forgotten why we got into this “business” in the first place.  And I call it a business because, for better or for worse, that’s what it’s become.

The arts have seemingly become a part of the business of survival. Read the rest of this entry »