Unpicking the Equity Knot in Arts Education

Posted by Lynne Kingsley On May - 5 - 2011
Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley

If you were to untangle the unified, multi-layered rope that is arts education in public schools in this country, would you find equal amounts of art, music, theater, and dance strands?

Without thinking, most of us would say mildly, “well, not exactly.”

As a theater person, I realize this too, but it can’t be THAT unequal, right?

The Snapshot of Arts Education in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: 2009-10 (a first look at top level national data from the upcoming FRSS study), published on Monday reveals a huge gap between the number of schools that offer art (83 percent) and music (94 percent) instruction and those that offer drama/theater (4 percent) and dance (3 percent) instruction at the elementary school level.  Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week

Posted by Tim Mikulski On May - 4 - 2011
Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

Just before writing this post, I started to think of one teacher who made a significant impact on my life.

As I took a minute to think about it, I realized that there have been many more than one who still resonate with me as I veer closer to my 40’s than to my elementary school days. Although not all of them are arts-related, many of them are.

Going back to elementary school chorus, I can remember the excitement and pride I felt being selected for our fourth/fifth-grade mini-chorus. The eight of us practiced and practiced with Mrs. Hitchens during lunch for three weeks before singing a Russian folk song for our winter show.

I later joined our newspaper club, and Mrs. Carlin sparked my journalistic instincts as I conducted a few hard-hitting interviews with my classmates about leaving our school and going to the middle school.

In middle school, I can still remember playing 60’s folk music on guitar with music teacher Mrs. Meiss (I wish I had a video of us playing “Bad Bad Leroy Brown.”).  Read the rest of this entry »

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The Role of the Arts in Educating America

Posted by Marete Wester On April - 29 - 2011

Last fall, 30 top-level decision makers and thought leaders from government, business, education, and the arts gathered at the Sundance Resort and Preserve for the Fifth Annual Americans for the Arts National Arts Policy Roundtable, to discuss this year’s theme – The Role of the Arts in Educating America for Great Leadership and Economic Strength.

Their conclusions are profiled in a new report issued this week by Americans for the Arts that calls for individuals across the public and private sector to recognize the arts as the transformational tools they are for making schools stronger and students more successful.

The recommendations offer insights from this cross-sector group on how we can better work together to ensure policies and practices are in place to increase arts in our schools.

The business and public policy communities are building consensus that if the nation is to succeed, an education steeped in the 4 “C’s” (Creativity, Collaboration, Communication and Critical Thinking) is not a luxury, but a necessity.   Read the rest of this entry »

An Arts Education Administrator Changes Careers

Posted by Kirsten Kilchenstein On April - 29 - 2011

Kirsten Kichenstein

After working in arts education for the past eleven years, I’ve transitioned to a new job where my day-to-day work is not administering an arts program.

While my new position still allows me to advocate for statewide arts education, I’m no longer an Education Director where every day I’m working alongside young people and teaching artists witnessing the transformation as teenagers discover their own creative voices and morph into someone new.

In this career shift, I can’t help but wonder, “Who am I now?”

Who am I without the daily struggle of encouraging a young person to take a creative risk?

Without the ability to directly experience the immeasurable rewards when that risk is taken, success is experienced and that young person will never again be the same?  Read the rest of this entry »

A Conversation with Kerry Washington

Posted by Tim Mikulski On April - 28 - 2011

Taking a break from her duties as co-chair of our 2011 National Arts Advocacy Day, Kerry Washington sat down with Americans for the Arts’ Graham Dunstan to discuss her personal arts experiences growing up in New York City, playing Ophelia, approaching acting as a social scientist, cultural diplomacy, and the importance of public funding for the arts.

An Eventful National Arts Advocacy Day (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Natalie Shoop On April - 27 - 2011

Kevin Spacey

Just a few short weeks ago, actors Alec Baldwin, Kerry Washington, Kevin Spacey, and Hill Harper joined more than 550 arts advocates representing 40 states from across the country on Capitol Hill for National Arts Advocacy Day 2011.

This year’s event took place at a critical time when legislators were battling over program cuts to reduce the deficit.

The day began with the Congressional Arts Kickoff where several members of Congress spoke to advocates about the importance of arts funding.

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), who chairs the subcommittee that oversees funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Smithsonian, said that while some in Congress believe that government should not support the arts, “I respectfully disagree.”   Read the rest of this entry »

From CA to Tribeca: Kevin Spacey on Arts Education, New Documentary

Posted by Tim Mikulski On April - 25 - 2011

After delivering the 24th Annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Public Policy as part of Arts Advocacy Day 2011, Kevin Spacey spoke with Americans for the Arts’ Ben Burdick about his involvement in Shakespeare High, a documentary debuting at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival this week. Spacey also talks about the most important reason to fund arts education.

Joining Spacey in D.C. was 2006 California Charter School Teacher of the Year Brad Koepenick who is also a producer of Shakespeare High. Koepenick tells Ben about his experience as a student and arts educator, and the impact that certain mentors have had on his life and career.

Art of the iPad

Posted by Jonathan Gay On April - 22 - 2011

Jonathan Gay

When the iPad was introduced in 2010, the evolution of computer made five giant steps forward.

We were presented with a variety of uses including board games, books, and media.

This technology had its hand in the growth of business and pleasure, but what could this device mean for education, or even more specifically, in early childhood education?

As an art project manager for a preschool in Newtown, PA, I took that question one step further in a project I titled, “Art of the iPad.”

I believe that instead of fearing technology, now is the time to embrace it. I believe we must take steps to harness and adapt technology for children.

Something as simple as a touch screen device can have an impact on a child. The question that remained was how could I use this device in a way that would take a snapshot of the artistic mind of a child?   Read the rest of this entry »

Going with the Flocabulary

Posted by Alyx Kellington On April - 21 - 2011

Many of us know that “Three is a Magic Number” and can answer the query, “Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?”

Schoolhouse Rock!, the animated musical educational films that aired before and after Saturday morning cartoons from 1973 to 1985 (for me, it must have been the debut season…) taught me how to count, remember my grammar, and introduced me to politics:

I’m just a bill.
Yes, I’m only a bill.
And I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill.

Many of those songs are deeply ingrained in my memory bank and come flying out at the darnedest times.

They are instant, whimsical visits to my past that serve a purpose: I had fun learning something I needed to know. And almost 40 years later, I can still remember it.   Read the rest of this entry »

The Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Randy Cohen On April - 20 - 2011
Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen

Editor’s Note: For a revised list of 10 REASONS TO SUPPORT THE ARTS IN 2012, head over to Randy’s latest ARTSblog post!

I was recently asked by a major biz leader for “10 reasons to support the arts.”

He needed the points to help him pull an 8-figure inve$tment for a new arts center…Make it compelling to government and business leaders, he asked.

Oh, yeah, he’s a busy guy—didn’t want a lot to read:  “Keep it to one page, please.”

So, apart from the 10-1 flip (and with apologies to David Letterman), this is what I delivered:

10. True prosperity…The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, goodness, and beauty. They help us express our values, build bridges between cultures, and bring us together regardless of ethnicity, religion, or age. When times are tough, the arts are salve for the ache.

9. Stronger communities…University of Pennsylvania researchers have demonstrated that a high concentration of the arts in a city leads to higher civic engagement, more social cohesion, higher child welfare, and lower poverty rates. A vibrant arts community ensures that young people are not left to be raised solely in a pop culture and tabloid marketplace.   Read the rest of this entry »

The Federal FY11 Appropriations Battle & The Arts

Posted by Narric Rome On April - 15 - 2011

Narric Rome

The story of how the federal government funded the National Endowment for the Arts and the Arts in Education program at the U.S. Department of Education really began on November 2, 2010.

Election Day delivered a major change of power in Washington with the GOP regaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives and tightening the margin of control in the U.S. Senate.

With the GOP set to take control of the House in January, the House Democrats found themselves unable to pass a FY2011 budget and had to settle for a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government until March 3, 2011.

This CR funded the National Endowment for the Arts at $167.5 million and the Arts in Education program was provided $40 million – which was the same amount they received the prior year.  Read the rest of this entry »

Sit at the Table or Be on the Menu…

Posted by Sahar Javedani On April - 15 - 2011

Sahar Javedani

I am an artist.

I am an administrator.

I am a teacher.

I am an advocate.

My destined path of arts education and advocacy began at an early age.

As the child of an Iranian architect and set designer, I have actively participated in the arts throughout my upbringing.

Raised in Encinitas in North County San Diego, California, my youth consisted of participating in community theater productions, conferences, and competitions. When it came time to decide on my academic future, I knew with 100% confidence that I would pursue a career in the performing arts.   Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Advocacy Day 2011: Day One

Posted by Crystal Wallis On April - 4 - 2011

Crystal Wallis

Today, on one of the most gorgeous days of the year in DC, hundreds of arts advocates converged on the Omni Shoreham to get “fired up and ready to go!”

It was really great to see so many people from all across the country that are so pasionate about advocating for the arts to their representatives. We all know it’s going to be difficult, but we believe that this is the right thing to do, and that our cause is a worthy one,and that gives us hope.

The staff of Americans for the Arts has done a great job in bringing in experts to talk to us about the issues.

There is so much to take in, but they try to break it down for us. Jay Dick did a good job this morning giving us basic tips on “lobbying 101″, and Americans for the Arts brought in a congressional staffer to give us “dos” and “don’ts”. One thing she said that really resonated with my background in development was to make sure that you make the ask!     Read the rest of this entry »

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Survey: Students Value Arts More Than Teachers?

Posted by Munira Khapra On March - 28 - 2011
Munira Khapra

Munira Khapra

According to a survey conducted by MetLife, American students (grades 6–12) believe that studying the arts – in addition to history, government, and politics – is important to understanding other nations and cultures and international issues.

This is in contrast to their teachers, who view other languages and the arts to be less essential in the understanding of other nations.

The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Preparing Students for College and Careers” examines education priorities for high school students; what being college- and career-ready entails; and the implications of this goal for teaching.

The results are based on a national survey conducted in the fall of 2010 of public school teachers, public school students, parents of public school students, and Fortune 1000 business executives.    Read the rest of this entry »

Part-Time Arts Education Isn’t Enough

Posted by Katherine Damkohler On March - 25 - 2011
Katherine Damkohler

Katherine Damkohler

If we took math out of the school curriculum, and replaced it with a six-week outreach program from an external organization, should we expect our children to develop a knowledge of math?

Of course not.

Then, why do we do this with the arts?

Many schools have responded to cuts in arts education funding by relying on temporary arts programs in place of investing in an arts teacher for their school.

These part-time programs often cherry-pick only a handful of students to participate, and do not fully engage the students they do serve.

Many refer to these programs as arts enrichment. However, I have to ask: without the foundation of arts instruction in our schools, what are they enriching?    Read the rest of this entry »