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 »

NCLB & the Obama Administration

Posted by Narric Rome On March - 18 - 2011

Narric Rome, Lynne Kingsley,Michael Sikes

The picture on the right was taken at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, VA, – a Kennedy Center Changing Education Through the Arts (CETA) partner school following an education policy speech by President Obama on Monday, March 14.

Pictured are Americans for the Arts Senior Director for Federal Affairs & Arts Education Narric Rome, Americans for the Arts’ Arts Education Council Member and Executive Director of the American Alliance for Theatre & Education Lynne Kingsley, and Arts Education Partnership Senior Associate for Research & Policy Michael Sikes.

The President’s speech was the third in a set of education events to celebrate “Education Month at the White House.” He began the month at Miami’s Central High School and later visited the TechBoston Academy.

At the Kenmore visit, the President challenged Congress on the need to “fix No Child Left Behind.” Specifically, he said this:

“According to new estimates, under the system No Child Left Behind put in place, more than 80 percent of our schools may be labeled as failing – 80 percent of our schools. Four out of five schools will be labeled as failing. That’s an astonishing number. And our impulse is to either be outraged that the numbers are so high, or skeptical that they’re even true. And let’s face it, skepticism is somewhat justified. We know that four out of five schools in this country aren’t failing. So what we’re doing to measure success and failure is out of line.” Read the rest of this entry »

Salon, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

Posted by Tim Mikulski On March - 18 - 2011
Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

As my third Arts Education Blog Salon comes to a conclusion, I wanted to first thank you for stopping by and (hopefully) reading all 31 posts over the past week.

The good news is that all of the posts will remain on the site and you can view them all at any time via this link – You can also search our blog by topic or by other tags listed at the bottom of each post. And, if you are ever interested in blogging yourself, just send me an email.

I also want to thank all of the intrepid bloggers from the week: Victoria Plettner-Saunders, Ken Busby, Kristy Callaway, Alyx Kellington, Lynne Kingsley, Rob Schultz, Deb Vaughn, Allen Bell, Kim Dabbs, Rachel Evans, Kathi R. Levin, Joan Weber, Marete Wester, Richard Kessler, Merryl Goldberg, Clayton Lord, and Ben Burdick.

Each of the authors (among them a few staff members of Americans for the Arts, members of our Arts Education Council, Twitter friends, meeting presenters, and members of Americans for the Arts) wrote great pieces that rarely overlapped, but when they did, they complimented each other.

Considering my usual guidance is, “Write on anything related to arts education that you feel needs to be addressed – in under 650 words,” I think they do a wonderful job.   Read the rest of this entry »

Thrill Kill & Other “Fun” Activities

Posted by Kristy Callaway On March - 18 - 2011

Listening to my grandmother tell stories about her youth, I cringed at the gallows humor of her siblings grabbing chickens by the neck and swinging them around their head trying to make a quick break, or their mother harkening out not to chop the head off too close to the clothes line.

Today’s youth are learning how to make their way a wee bit differently, instead of killing and eating their beloved livestock, they have really cool games to play, with titles like the just released Homefront for Xbox 360.

The plot is fabulous, the year is 2007 and the U.S. is pit against North Korea on our own killing fields, American soil.     Read the rest of this entry »

Oh, Canada!: A Tax Credit for Arts Education?!

Posted by Tim Mikulski On March - 18 - 2011
Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

I wasn’t planning on writing another “issue post” today, but I came across an article this morning that just can’t be ignored.

In a report from Canada’s CTV network, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has proposed something that would make Sarah Palin’s head spin around on top of her shoulders.

He wants the federal government to provide a new tax credit for parents whose children participate in artistic activities.

Let me repeat: He wants the federal government to provide a new tax credit for parents whose children participate in artistic activities.

Harper made this declaration (without much detail) while discussing his new economic action plan stating:

“The family is the basic building block of Canadian society. That’s why the Next Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan will contain new support for Canadian families and communities, including a tax credit for children’s participation in artistic activities.”

In 2007, a similar tax credit was issued for children involved in organized sports, allowing parents to save up to $75 per child on their taxes.

I wonder what would happen if President Obama presented the same plan on the Hill today…

Allen Bell

Back in 1987, the Getty Center for Education in the Arts (later known as the Getty Education Institute for the Arts), a program of the J. Paul Getty Trust, began a series of Regional Institute Grants.

The funds supported the establishment of visual arts institutes in six states throughout the country – Florida, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas. The program focused on discipline-based arts education (DBAE) and charged the recipient organizations with serving broad geographic regions.

The first seven years of the program was reported on and assessed in the book The Quiet Evolution: Changing the Face of Arts Education by Brent Wilson, then professor and head of art education at Pennsylvania State University.

By 1996, the six institutes had provided professional development to several thousand administrators and teachers who represented 217 school districts serving 1.5 million students in 13 states. They also had developed sophisticated community change and summer institute models that served as benchmarks for the field.

Fast forward to 2011 – while the regional institutes provided groundbreaking arts education programs for their time, some of them have ceased to exist altogether, while several that do still exist no longer continue similar programs. One of the original institutes, however, continues to thrive on providing programs developed around an updated version of the original Getty DBAE design.    Read the rest of this entry »

The Challenge and Opportunity of Parent Engagement

Posted by Richard Kessler On March - 18 - 2011

Richard Kessler

If I were to think of an emblematic phrase, in arts education, it might very well be: parents are key.

Even U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, when asked on a teleconference about what should be done to advance arts education, said: “parents really have to push for this and demand it. And our job as educators is to listen to what parents and students are telling us.”

It is easier said than done.

I will never forget the influential funder who told me told me that parents were a sinkhole, only to tell me a bit later that parents were essential. Whiplash!

Funny thing, both viewpoints are correct.

It’s important to note that we were talking about parents in urban school districts, and were focused on the issue of how parents could make the difference in an individual school and on a system-wide basis.    Read the rest of this entry »

Merryl Goldberg

I was in the principal’s office this morning, but not because I was in trouble.

I am working with a wonderfully committed principal in Vista, CA, Mary Contreras, on developing ways to use the arts as a methodology to reach English language learners on her site.

However, while I was in the office, two boys were ushered in because they were in trouble. I sat and listened to each tell his version of a story which essentially amounted to miscommunication involving bullying and a near physical fight.

As one boy left, the other started crying quietly.

After a moment or two, when gently pushed by Mary to talk about his feelings, the boy said he was sad because he was losing his friend. It was a really poignant and heartbreaking moment, and I truly felt for this kid.    Read the rest of this entry »

21st Century Skills – Not Just for Students Anymore

Posted by Lynne Kingsley On March - 17 - 2011
Lynne Kingsley

Lynne Kingsley

Though it’s a generally accepted concept that infusing 21st Century Skills into education for our nation’s students is vital for creating and maintaining a strong, globally competitive society, we, as a professional arts education field, are having a tough time letting go of 20th century habits.

What follows are three skills that come directly from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills Arts Map. I ask that we, as arts education professionals and managers, consider, “are we practicing what we teach?”


Which one of us has not felt the pangs of anxiety (especially in such harsh budget times) in hearing news of project serving audiences similar to ours being funded or winning awards? Territorialism takes over and the tendency to work in silos to achieve more than our colleagues (or, cruder, competitors) lingers over us like a dark cloud of doom. Read the rest of this entry »

Leave No Child Inside – The Importance of Field Trips

Posted by Alyx Kellington On March - 17 - 2011
Alyx Kellington

Alyx Kellington

Across the nation, field trips are being eliminated from school district’s budgets. Teachers are restricted by the pressures from districts to show curricular results and to cover content in classrooms leaving little time for out-of-school excursions.

The logistics of test schedules, finding a substitute teacher, bus and fuel costs, and balancing curriculum needs with hands-on activities often leaves teachers overwhelmed. Field trips are often viewed as “fluff” or extra-curricular activities and, therefore, are easy line items to cut.

However, teachers and students advocate – and studies indicate – that field trips are a key component of school instruction; they broaden the educational experience and make a subject more relevant.

Students might be good at reciting and remembering things but they often don’t make the connection unless they experience it first hand. Field trips connect the dots for students by providing real experiences related to all content areas.   Read the rest of this entry »