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 »

Josh Groban Sheds ‘Light’ On Arts Education

Posted by Tim Mikulski On July - 8 - 2011

Josh Groban

Singer-songwriter Josh Groban was a strong supporter of the arts and arts education long before gaining the attention of the music industry in 1998. His initial foray into charitable causes has always included arts education, in addition to a number of other causes.

However, Groban also recognizes that access to quality arts education has been declining and he wants to do as much as he can to help students be exposed to, and trained in, music, theater, dance, and visual arts.

Yesterday he announced that he is refocusing his charitable efforts on arts education under a new name, the Find Your Light Foundation.

Seeking to make a difference in schools across America and around the world, the foundation will focus on providing instruments and funding for arts programs in schools. 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 »

Alec Baldwin: A Critical Time for Arts Funding

Posted by admin On July - 5 - 2011
Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin speaks at Arts Advocacy Day 2011.

Hello. I’m Alec Baldwin.

Over the past few months, you may have seen me on television doing a series of commercials for Capital One.

What you may not know is that I am donating all of the proceeds from this work to cultural charities, including some of the organizations with which I’m involved: Guild Hall of East Hampton, The New York Philharmonic, Roundabout Theater, the Hamptons International Film Festival, and of course, Americans for the Arts.

But these spots are not about me getting money and then giving it to charity. Actually, Capital One is partnering with me.

That’s right. Capital One has partnered with me to help the arts by letting these advertisements serve as a platform through which I can raise awareness about the need for public funding of the arts and arts education.

In these tough economic times, I don’t want people to forget about the arts and arts education. People need to understand what’s at stake. Read the rest of this entry »

Old School New School, A New Documentary

Posted by Steven Fischer On July - 1 - 2011

Steven Fischer

Snag Films has released Old School New School, an educational documentary on the nature of creativity.

The movie explores the mystery of creativity with a cast of artistic heavyweights including celebrated actor Brian Cox (known for standout work in King Lear, X-Men, and Manhunter – Cox was the first to play Hannibal Lecter), innovative jazz pianist McCoy Tyner (Four-time Grammy® Award winner and pianist for the John Coltrane Quartet), and six-time Oscar® nominee William Fraker (the cinematographer who created the memorable photography of Bullitt, Rosemary’s Baby, WarGames, and Tombstone.)

In the movie, an independent filmmaker (me) questioning how he can realize his full creative potential travels the United States in search of answers. The journey takes him into the lives and homes of some of today’s most accomplished and illuminating artists. Their conversations explore three central themes: finding one’s voice, risk, and the definition of success in the arts.  Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Education Advocacy Success in Sunny San Diego

Posted by Tim Mikulski On June - 30 - 2011
Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

For those of you who were able to attend our local arts education advocacy session at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention, you know all about the work of the San Diego Alliance for Arts Education.

For those that couldn’t make it to San Diego a few weeks ago, the Alliance was created as part of a statewide effort by the California Alliance for Arts Education to launch local advocacy groups.

Led by Americans for the Arts’ Arts Education Council Chair Victoria Plettner-Saunders, the group has recently been attempting to restore funding to the San Diego Unified School District’s (SDUSD) Visual and Performing Arts Department (VAPA). (You can read more about their efforts in an earlier post from ARTSblog or by purchasing our full slate of sessions on our Convention On-Demand site and viewing the local arts education advocacy session).

On June 21, all of their relationship-building and advocacy efforts led to a unanimous vote by the board of education that restored full funding to arts education programs for the 2011-2012 school year. Read the rest of this entry »

South Carolina Governor Vetoes Arts Funding

Posted by admin On June - 28 - 2011

Editors Note: Click here for an update on this story.

In response to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s decision to veto funding for the South Carolina Arts Commission, Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, issued the following statement:

“In vetoing funding for the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC), Gov. Nikki Haley offers another unfortunate example of newly-elected gubernatorial leadership being out of touch with the wishes of voters for ideological reasons.

Betty Plumb, executive director of the South Carolina Arts Alliance states, ‘South Carolinians have spoken and the General Assembly has listened. The budget is balanced, and it includes the arts. The state’s small investment in the arts yields significant, statewide returns for education, quality of life, and our economy. The support and services the arts commission provides make a positive difference in our communities and schools. We don’t need to sacrifice this valuable public asset when there is no practical necessity to do so.’  Read the rest of this entry »

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 »