Arts Education Must Exist Beyond Evaluation, Measurement, and Standards

Posted by Rob Schultz On December - 11 - 2012

Rob Schultz

I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m only passingly familiar with many of the theories and practices of arts education. Teaching visual art classes is in my distant, hazy professional background, but my career since then has been in managing community arts education programs and the capable, expert staff who deliver them.

It’s certainly been interesting reading and discussing various approaches to comprehensive arts education over the years, how best practices are defined at any one particular time, and how new approaches redefine what we thought we already knew.

I can appreciate how valuable these theories and practices are and what results they achieve in students of varying ethnic, age, and socioeconomic diversity. Of course, there’s also been an ever-increasing focus on standardization and evaluation, in large part I suppose because of the need to meet “proof of effectiveness” requirements demanded by grantors and others in the business of providing financial support to the arts education field.

All of us were pleased when, in 1994, the National Arts Standards were adopted and our field proudly saw that the arts had been recognized and earned a place at the public education table. More recently, the Common Core State Standards arrived on the national scene, and so now we grapple with ways to make their integration and implementation a reality.

A colleague on the Arts Education Council of Americans for the Arts, Talia Gibas, recently wrote an excellent essay on the value of “shared delivery,” whereby a child is taught through three processes: a generalist classroom teacher who integrates the arts on a daily basis; an arts specialist who “hones in on skills and content specific to their art form;” and a professional teaching artist who deepens engagement. Read the rest of this entry »

Improving Lives Through Community Arts Education

Posted by Rob Schultz On May - 17 - 2011

Rob Schultz

As an arts administrator with responsibility for community arts education programs, it’s too easy to get caught up in the routine side of management: revenue, expenses, supervising staff, policies, procedures, publicity, and the rest. While necessary, these are merely tools to reach the more crucial and satisfying aspect of community arts education: improving people’s lives and helping them be happy.

In Mesa, AZ, our community arts education programs are fairly comprehensive, and growing.

In 2005, through a “Quality of Life” half-cent sales tax increase approved in 1998 by our citizens, Mesa completed a $99.8 million arts complex just a few blocks north of the original Arts Center site. Because our arts education classes had grown over the years and demand was high, the new Mesa Arts Center’s design included 14 fully-equipped visual and performing arts studios on two floors in two buildings, including an 8,000 square-foot ceramics studio and kiln courtyard.  Read the rest of this entry »

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.