Las Plumas High School Ceramics holds much appreciation for Vans…

Posted by Kandis Horton On August - 11 - 2014
Kandis Horton

Kandis Horton

…and not just because they make awesome shoes!

In addition to the Vans Custom Culture Contest the company puts on for high schools nationwide every year, they have partnered with Americans for the Arts to contribute $2,000 to ten high schools in order to further art programs that have big goals or aspirations to improve facilities for students. The Las Plumas High School (LPHS) Art Department teachers–Kandis Horton and Julie Tooker–applied for the Vans Custom Culture grant in November of 2013 in order to serve the art students of the area in a manner that would enrich their arts experience and education. Read the rest of this entry »

Muraling through Time and Space: A Steampunk Journey

Posted by Jess Perry Martin On August - 1 - 2014
Jess Perry-Martin

Jess Perry-Martin

“Gearing Up for the Future” is a high school mural project exploring innovation from a Steam Punk perspective. Valley Academy of Arts & Sciences art students embraced the design aesthetic of the Industrial Age in their mural.  This piece envisions a world where idea and innovation run free of the constraints of the past. They created a work laden with symbolic imagery (see video for slide-show of mural project) that explores the endless potential for innovation in technology, science and beyond.

VAAS students are educated to value the integration of art, science, and global collaborative thinking.  VAAS is a unique school because our students choose to enroll here and have many opportunities to learn a variety of arts and sciences that go beyond their required courses for graduation and university admission. Read the rest of this entry »

VADA/Artist Collab to hit the streets of the Funk Zone

Posted by Calico Brown On July - 28 - 2014
Calico Brown

Calico Brown

VADA, the Visual Arts & Design Academy at Santa Barbara High School, is thrilled to announce a very special mural collaboration project with artists Joe Shea and Yoskay Yamamato. The artists will work with VADA students on a series of mural paintings, which will then be installed on the Anacapa Project building in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone.

Visual Arts & Design Academy

Visual Arts & Design Academy

VADA is a “school‐within‐a‐school” that integrates rigorous academic coursework with project‐based, career‐focused, and art & design instruction in a supportive and creative environment. VADA serves 175 students in grades 10 through 12 at a culturally and economically diverse urban high school in downtown Santa Barbara. VADA teachers collaborate to create a thematically and conceptually integrated curriculum. Field trips to major Southern California museums and design firms, artist residencies, guest speakers, mentorships, and internships give students exposure to and experience in the creative sector. Read the rest of this entry »

The Value of Community-Based Arts Education

Posted by Matt D'Arrigo On July - 22 - 2014
Matt D'Arrigo

Matt D’Arrigo

Say the words “arts education” and most likely you think of K-12, classroom-based, standards-based arts instruction tied to the school curriculum. (You may also think that there’s an extreme lack of this happening in the current school system, and you would be right.)

When I attended my first National Arts Education Council meeting for Americans for the Arts this past January, the question was posed: “What is arts education”? After some awkward silence and darting eyes, council members began expressing their perspectives on what arts education meant to them. What emerged was a kaleidoscope of approaches and contexts: classroom-based and community based, during school and after school, arts integration and arts education, K-12/higher education/life-long learning, arts as education and arts as social service, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

Creating Dangerously: My Week at VONA

Posted by Eric Nguyen On July - 9 - 2014
Eric Nguyen and M. Evelina Galang

Eric Nguyen and M. Evelina Galang

On June 22nd I visited Berkeley to attend the Voices of Our Nation Arts (VONA) Writers’ Workshop. This workshop is a week-long conference for writers of color with workshops led by award-winning writers in a variety of genres, including fiction writer M. Evelina Galang, poet Patricia Smith, memorist Andrew X. Pham, and novelist Junot Diaz, among many others.

The organization was founded in 1999 by Junot Díaz, Elmaz Abinader, Victor Díaz, and Diem Jones. Each envisioned an arts organization that could change the landscape for writers of color by supporting individual writer growth, creating a platform for community engagement, and providing a workshop and mentor focus to expand writing opportunities. Fifteen years after its founding, it has become one of the most esteemed writers’ conferences in the US. Read the rest of this entry »

Teaching Artists Help a School District Restore Arts Education

Posted by Erika Boardman Kraft On June - 18 - 2014
Laura Norman

Laura Norman

Erika Boardman Kraft

Erika Boardman Kraft

Can the work teaching artists do in school districts impact a district’s long-term arts programming?  Absolutely!, as illustrated by the Twin Rivers Unified School District in northern Sacramento, California.

Founded in 2008 when four districts merged, Twin Rivers Unified School District saw more than $100 million in state cuts during its first three years of existence. This exacerbated an already difficult situation for arts education in the district composed of primarily Title I schools.  Most elementary schools had no credentialed arts specialists in any of the disciplines. Middle schools had a few arts education offerings, often available only as electives, and the arts programming in the high schools varied by school, but did not come close to matching what more affluent districts in the region could offer or what the state mandates.

In spite of this, the district’s arts education leadership was determined to provide what arts education programming they could, using resources from the local arts community. They brought in programming from the region’s arts organizations, found grants to take students to arts events, and contracted with regional teaching artists for residencies and workshops. Read the rest of this entry »

A New Vision for Arts Education

Posted by Ayanna Hudson On May - 28 - 2014
Ayanna Hudson

Ayanna Hudson

The Arts Endowment’s vision is that every student is engaged and empowered through an excellent arts education. This statement reflects a fundamental belief that all students should have the opportunity to participate in the arts, both in school and out of school. It also acknowledges the very real benefits of an arts education—students participating in the arts are engaged in life and are empowered to be fulfilled, responsible citizens who make a profound, positive impact on this world. I’d like to share with you what the NEA has learned about how to achieve this vision and steps we are taking to move this vision forward. Read the rest of this entry »

Turnaround Arts and Why It Works

Posted by Malissa Feruzzi Shriver On May - 27 - 2014
Malissa Feruzzi Shriver

Malissa Feruzzi Shriver

Here is a recipe for success. Take a failing elementary school, invest time and treasure in professional development, help them develop a strategic plan; assist them in maximizing their budget with expert technical assistance. Bring in the non-profit arts providers, credentialed specialists, teaching artists, universities, the local community, and parents. To top it all off, add in a famous artist – as a mentor, as an advocate, and to bring in the media. With a potent combination of discrete arts education in all four disciplines and arts integration, this program proves that the so-called achievement gap is indeed an opportunity gap: an opportunity gap for the principals, teachers, students, and their parents – but also for their communities and for our society. As John Dewey said, what the best and wisest person wants for his child, that must we want for all the children of the community. Anything less is unlovely, and unchecked, destroys our democracy. Read the rest of this entry »

Partnering to Stay Balanced Through Policy Quakes

Posted by Talia Gibas On April - 30 - 2014
Talia Gibas

Talia Gibas

Working in K-12 arts education is like trying to choreograph a dance during a slow, rolling earthquake. You’re determined to take your next step, but spend a lot of time and energy fighting to stay upright. As the ground shifts beneath your feet, you never know when something unwieldy – a new set of standards, a reduced funding stream – may tumble in your direction.

Working in this environment requires you have a resource in your community to keep an eye on changing policies and boil them down to what you need to know. The better your understanding of the “big picture” of education and how it affects the arts, the easier it is to keep enough balance to dance amidst the chaos.

Recent changes to California’s education funding, and the arts education community’s response, provides a case study of how this works. Last June, Governor Jerry Brown signed a state budget that included a sweeping overhaul of school funding.  The new formula, called Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), replaced California’s prior categorical line items for education. These line items included the Art and Music Block grant that for years had been the state’s dedicated source of arts education funding. Read the rest of this entry »

Shaking Up Employee Volunteer Programs

Posted by Maura Koehler-Hanlon On April - 24 - 2014
Maura Koehler-Hanlon

Maura Koehler-Hanlon

The following is an article originally posted on VolunteerMatch, written by vice president of Client Services Maura Koehler-Hanlon, in which she describes how she recently challenged the existing system of employee volunteer programs, and argued for an overhaul of the field. Visit VolunteerMatch for more articles about volunteering and corporate social responsibility.

Earlier this month I hit the road with Vicky Hush, VolunteerMatch’s VP of Engagement & Strategic Partnerships. We headed up to Portland to present to Hands On Greater Portland’s Corporate Volunteer Council to share our expertise with employee volunteer managers about how to keep your employee volunteer program (EVP) fresh and exciting. Leading up to the presentation, we had a tough internal conversation which amounted to this: how controversial did we want to be? What would happen if we just came out and said that we think EVPs should be doing more? We decided to go for it – those Portlanders are a tough bunch with all that fresh air! And it worked: when we asked the room of EVP managers “how many of you feel like your employee volunteer program is as strong as it can be?” we (not surprisingly) didn’t see a single hand. Read the rest of this entry »

Take the Lead: Musing of a Professional Development Junkie

Posted by Whitney Roux On April - 16 - 2014
Whitney Roux

Whitney Roux

Professional development takes many forms, from hands-on workshops to panel discussions. Important opportunities for leadership and building relationships with mentors provide a robust calendar of growth options. An Emerging Leader’s plan for success needs to explore how to best combine education tracks to improve at their current job while simultaneously growing into their dream career.

As a Steering Committee member of the Rising Arts Leaders of San Diego (RALSD), I work with my committee to develop programs that fit the needs of emerging leaders in arts and culture. We build workshops, facility tours, and discussions around issues that affect our arts community, meanwhile crossing departmental bridges with networking events and social gatherings. But personally, I have found that the best professional development happens when you get your hands dirty. Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2014

Posted by Randy Cohen On March - 20 - 2014
Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen

There is an old quote attributed to John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich:

“If any man will draw up his case, and put his name at the foot of the first page, I will give him an immediate reply. Where he compels me to turn over the sheet, he must wait my leisure.”

This was the charge given to me by a business leader who needed to make a compelling case for government and corporate arts funding:

“Keep it to one page, please,” was his request. “I can get anyone to read one page.”

With the 2014 arts advocacy season upon us, the following is my updated “Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts.”

  • Which of these would you rank as #1?
  • Do you have a #11 to add?
  • Tell us in the comments below!

You can download this handy 1-pager here.

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

2. Arts improve academic performance. Students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, and lower drop-out rates—benefits reaped by students regardless of socio-economic status. Students with 4 years of arts or music in high school average 100 points better on their SAT scores than students with just one-half year of arts or music. Read the rest of this entry »

Four Tips From a Teaching Artist to Make You a Better Arts Administrator

Posted by Lori Sokolowski On March - 13 - 2014
Lori Sokolowski

Lori Sokolowski

Being a teaching artist is hard work. There are the sticky, dirty germs and the immune system that can’t keep up at every new school site. Then there’s those Friday afternoons with a hyper class of third graders. Sometimes, there’s the not so great classroom teacher who sits disengaged in the back of the room grading papers, eating, or even worse, napping. Yes, I said napping. But it’s not always like that. The teacher napping incident was a one-time thing. Most of the time being a teaching artist in a school setting is an inspiring and invigorating experience. I learn from my students and their classroom teachers as much as I hope they learn from me.

At San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts I split my responsibilities as a teaching artist for CARE (Collaborative Arts Resources for Education) with other administrative responsibilities. The pedagogy of teaching artistry has made me a better administrator and I would like to share these four tips with you. Read the rest of this entry »

Sandy Seufert

Sandy Seufert

The concept of “practice” has always been a word attached to my own personal art form of music. But the very verb-ness of that word has taken on a completely different dimension as a noun of serious proportions in my current work with visual artists to develop curriculum to support the new Next Generation Science Standards.

At my work at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, California, I have the incredible opportunity to work with a brilliant faculty of highly trained and creative teaching artists in a program called, “Children Investigate the Environment.” While this program has existed in a variety of forms since 1986, it was the release of the new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in April of 2013 that prompted an idea to increase the rigor of the science content of the program.

Working in grade level teams with the teaching artists to create the curriculum, it took a while for us to wrap our heads around each of the aspects of the NGSS – Performance Expectations, Disciplinary Core Ideas, Cross Cutting Concepts, etc. However, the first thing that resonated with all of us was the focus on Scientific and Engineering Practices. In reflecting on our own various practices as artists, we realized that we had found an important connection. It was there that we started. Read the rest of this entry »

The Good News about Arts Education in Los Angeles County

Posted by Laura Zucker On February - 28 - 2014
Laura Zucker

Laura Zucker

Recently the 2013 Otis Report on the Creative Economy for California and the Los Angeles Region was released. As in previous years, the presentation of the data generated anticipation and buzz in the arts community.  There is a lot of good news for the creative sector, including the fact that one out of every seven jobs is in the creative economy. The report emphasizes the critical role arts education plays in preparing students for these jobs, and we at the Los Angeles County Arts Commission are particularly interested in how we can make these opportunities a reality for all the 1.6 million students in our public schools.

The Otis Report consolidates data from across all 81 school districts in Los Angeles County. These districts range in size from large (over 600,000 students) to small (under 1,500 students) and utilize arts specialists, generalist teachers and teaching artists in different ways to achieve their educational goals.

The data draws from the 2011-12 academic year, which was a challenging time for schools. Districts were struggling with recession era budgets, forced to make difficult budgetary choices and like the rest of the country, much of their public accountability was based on test scores in math and language arts.

Despite these challenges, there are positive indicators:

  • Arts course enrollment regained what was lost during the recession, and was only 10 fewer students in 2011-12 compared to 2005-06 (317,000 students).
  • The total number of arts education classes offered increased by 20.8% since 2005-06.
  • Enrollment in arts courses as a percentage of all courses rose slightly to 7.6% in 2011-12 from 7.0% in 2005-06.

We know there is public will around arts education from superintendents, assistant superintendents and teachers across LA County. Arts for All, the county’s arts education initiative dedicated to making the arts core in K-12 public education, saw will transformed into action through the creation and adoption of 50 arts strategic plans since 2002, twelve school districts implementing robust teacher professional development plans, and countywide interest in the inclusion of the arts as a strategy for helping students achieve Common Core State Standards (every workshop we offer on the topic is filled to capacity).

And the landscape for education in the state is changing once again with significantly more resources flowing into LA County schools. We’re looking forward to greater gains in the next few years and plan to partner with Otis College and the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation to provide a more in-depth snapshot of the state of arts education in 2014.

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.