Small Enough to Succeed

Posted by Doug Borwick On December - 6 - 2012

Doug Borwick

I have, for most of my life, been suspicious of the “growth is good” assumption that we often make in this country or did as I was growing up. (Sometimes when I replay in my mind the famous Gordon Gecko speech from Wall Street, it’s not greed I hear him praise but growth.)

At the risk of appearing to trivialize something that is incredibly serious, cancer is a demonstration (an extreme one to be sure) that not all growth is beneficial. Less hyperbolically, the quest for resources to support program growth as well as the need for expanding infrastructure to sustain it often creates a situation in which the mission out of which the program sprang gets left in the dust. The attention required to amass funding and personnel gets in the way of focusing on the reason the program was created. But that is a systemic (and management theory) issue that I am sure others participating in this Blog Salon will address.

Some in the for-profit world have been questioning the merits of “bigness” for years. Right-sizing, just-in-time production, and Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Concept (for focus on a core) and “Stop Doing List” (one of my favorites) all address the issue that big is not necessarily better, even in financial terms. In the not-for-profit arts world, the recent University of Chicago study, Set in Stone arrives at a similar conclusion about the dangers of facilities creep.

My principal interest is in effective community engagement in the service of creating healthier communities. This work is relationship driven and relationships cannot be mass-produced. However, as I discussed in a blog post some time ago–The Magic of Small Groups–megachurches, in creating and nurturing small subsets of the whole, have discovered a volunteer-labor-intensive path around that problem. Read the rest of this entry »

Rebecca Yenawine

I have been a community arts practitioner in Baltimore City for the last 15 years.

After years of being asked by funders how my program evaluates its outcomes and answering with anecdotal stories and satisfaction survey results, I decided to try to find more meaningful ways tell the story of this work so that its potential for impact could be better understood and attract investment and resources. To this end, I began some small research projects.

In 2010, Zoe Reznick Gewanter and I conducted a study of 14 community arts practitioners. Practitioners were interviewed and asked how they define community arts, what their methods are and what outcomes they see as a result of the work. Here’s a video of that work:

After transcribing and coding their interviews, several clusters of outcomes emerged: Read the rest of this entry »

So…What’s Your Equation for Quality?

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On March - 16 - 2012

Kristen Engebretsen

I hope that everyone has enjoyed reading the various thoughts and stories from leaders across the country during our bi-annual Blog Salon (come back in September for our second one).

During the Salon, we heard examples of how folks are measuring quality, in terms of the effectiveness of their partnerships and their levels of student engagement:

We also heard some calls to action, by authors who wanted to push the field forward:

  • Seth’s ideas for shaking up education.
  • Jane’s call to let go of the notion that “models” from the “pockets of excellence” in the field will emerge and conveniently help us “scale up” and solve all of our problems.
  • Joyce’s simple reminder that creativity is the answer to this search for quality.

Thanks for following our salon on quality, engagement, and partnerships.

After reading all of these posts, have you decided on your own equation for quality in your community? I’d love to hear your final reflections in the comments section.

To view the salon in its entirety, please use this link: http://bit.ly/y9d2JV.

The Creative Process Ensures Quality Instruction

Posted by Joyce Bonomini On March - 15 - 2012

Joyce Bonomini

As a practitioner, I have often taken quality, engagement and partnership for granted: they are a given. How could you live without any of them?

In fact, none of these factors exist without the other. Think about it. Think about how life would be…

I know that I am expanding the definitions in my head. I am not just talking about partnership of organizations here but individuals; such as teacher to student or the partnership a person has with their instrument, writing pen, script, or experiment.

I am talking about life with or without connection of self to others. I am not sure how quality of any level can exist without connection.

WOW, what an “AHA!” moment I just had because that is what we ask hundreds of thousands of students to do every day in the classrooms across this country.

Can we stop asking WHY students are dropping out?

I mean, don’t we know why they are BORED, feel unengaged, and often have no connection to either their instructor or anyone else. Read the rest of this entry »

DREAM & TELL!: Arts Integration Models at Work (Part One)

Posted by Merryl Goldberg On March - 15 - 2012

Merryl Goldberg

In considering quality, engagement, and partnerships, I’m really thrilled to be writing about DREAM and TELL!

Developing Reading Education through Arts Methods (DREAM) is a four-year arts integration program funded through the United States Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement: Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Grant Program.

Theater for English Language Learners (TELL!) is a multi-year project with funding this year from the National Endowment for the Arts, Arts in Education category.

Both programs are partnership programs involving school districts, a university, and professional artists. In this post and my next one, I will describe each of these projects. This one introduces DREAM.

“Some schools don’t have what kids need to enjoy school,” said Jordan Zavala, 9. “I used to have a hard time reading, but since I’ve been in Mr. DeLeon’s class I’ve done better because we act out what we learn. It’s really been fun.” (San Diego Union Tribune 2/10/12)

The DREAM program is a partnership of the San Diego County Office of Education via the North County Professional Development Federation, and Center ARTES at California State University San Marcos.

The program’s goal is to train third and fourth grade teachers to use visual arts and theater activities to improve students’ reading and language arts skills. Read the rest of this entry »

Where We Are & Where We Ought to be Going

Posted by Jane Remer On March - 14 - 2012

Jane Remer

In my first post, I suggested we needed definitions of quality, engagement, and partnership. I offered my thoughts on these three issues and left a “tentative conclusion” saying we probably ought to decide whether we as a group want to deal with the three “topics” together, or separately.

The posts from the other bloggers do both and so I have decided it’s best to follow my own train and offer a short list of where I see the field still stuck for answers.

I have no idea whether or how this will clarify or motivate collaborative thinking among us (a disparate group with very different agendas), but here goes…

In random order, here are some of the issues that have stymied us for decades:

1. Without committed classroom teachers and specialist arts educators as well as principals and their assistants, we (arts organizations, artists, consultants, et al) have no solid validity as partners in the arts as education.

2. Without the district’s or state’s education office heavily engaged, represented and fiscally invested, we have no chance, whatsoever, to build a growing and sustained constituency for the arts as education.

3. Without strong leadership and some attempt at unity and dialogue among the schools and the arts and cultural organization, we will continue to face the rather vast chasm between them as “them” and “us. Read the rest of this entry »

Building Commonly Valued Outcomes & Committing to the Journey

Posted by Jennifer Bransom On March - 14 - 2012

Jennifer Bransom

Confession time, I’m writing this second blog in advance of the first blog being published (this is how publication works). So, I am hoping we’ve had a widely successful conversation already about quality teaching and learning.

If we haven’t, then close your eyes, call forth the best dream conversation you can, attribute it to this blog, open your eyes, and let’s proceed.

In all seriousness, creating an open and rich conversation about quality is akin to facilitating a quality teaching and learning experience for and with students.

You need to set a climate where all feel comfortable sharing. This includes keeping the conversation focused and productive, while ensuring mutual respect among all parties.

You also need to generate engagement and investment by outlining clear expectations and offering multiple entry points for participants to stretch and extend their thinking.

Shared dialogue is another critical element. Not just talking, but listening, responding, and collaboratively using evidence and examples to construct new meaning, raises the quality of the work.

Skills, technique, and/or knowledge form the backbone of the work. They are the “what” we are teaching and learning. Read the rest of this entry »

Quality Education Must Include the Arts…and Partnerships

Posted by Joyce Bonomini On March - 13 - 2012

Joyce Bonomini

Arts education is my passion and I believe a solution to most problems in the world.

I could stop there, but I won’t.

I am fortunate to lead a team of arts educators and administrators that are committed to a vision and definition of arts education that insists on quality, engagement, and partnerships to sustain.

We believe:

  1. Arts and arts education are essential to human development.
  2. Arts are vital to the life of the community.
  3. The measure of our culture lives in the art we value and pass on to our children.
  4. Art is personal; art changes lives.

Through professional leadership, adherence to standards of excellence, responsiveness to our constituents, and uncompromising dedication to principals of inclusion, The Hoffman Institute provides a dynamic resource to all segments of the community for life-long experience, exploration, discovery, and mastery of the performing arts.

Our educational philosophy follows that vision as we believe that the performing arts are integral to human development and essential to the quality of life of a community. Furthermore, quality programming engages the community as a whole in an ongoing dialogue that strengthens the individual, our organization, and the community at large. Read the rest of this entry »

Jane Remer

It is always useful for me when starting a discussion about the arts as education to search for definitions that may help to bring participants closer together with the language we chose in our dialogues. In this case, I have asked myself: What do the words quality, engagement and partnership mean to each of us who work in different aspects of the field in different areas of the country?

In our field where there is so much diversity of philosophy, pedagogy, goals and objectives, and policy, I for one would welcome a starting point that serves as a “meet and greet” or “getting to know you” opportunity. I am game for sharing my own thoughts, and would be interested to hear others’.

Partnership
Over the years, I have designed, implemented, researched, evaluated, and celebrated the idea of partnership as a critical strategy for uniting the arts and education worlds. One of my books (Beyond Enrichment: Building Effective Arts Partnerships with Schools and Your Community) deals with the value and challenges of collaboration in complex examples taken from schools, districts, and arts organizations across the country.

For me, arts education partnerships have flourished at the national, state, district, and local levels beginning in the 1960s, peaking nationally in the 70s and 80s, and then continuing sporadically in what I call “pockets of excellence.” The challenges for partnerships from the start have included their fragile sustainability. We are always faced with the difficulty of finding public, private and other resources to grow promising programs and practices, especially when politics, policy and availability of money have been unsteady or unreliable. Read the rest of this entry »

Yes, And?

Posted by Anamika Goyal On November - 10 - 2011

Anamika Goyal

Stunned.

It’s really the only word to describe my reaction to all of the previous posts. As a newly-minted, 21-year-old college graduate, I become quickly overwhelmed by the plethora of next steps available to me.

And, after reading the posts from all of this week’s bloggers–socially responsible, creative, like-minded people doing good and interesting work–I felt exactly that.

It’s odd to me that being presented with so many interesting and feasible options elicits such angst. I would imagine that many people in the same situation would be excited, elated even. I can’t help but feel immediately burdened by the inevitable ‘choice.’ I immediately start thinking that I need to pick one and begin to fear that I might pick wrong.

So yesterday, after Googling all of the organizations and projects mentioned in the posts and finding a number of groups doing things that intrigued me, I jotted down keywords of particular interest on Post-Its and stuck them on a wall in my apartment.

‘Community’, ‘arts’, ‘engagement’, ‘interactive’, ‘installation’, ‘industrial’, ‘design’, ‘redesign’, ‘urban’, and ‘group’ were all words that kept popping up.

It felt good to write them down, but then I found myself a little stuck again. I feel like this process tends to leave me with more questions than answers, which I will now pose to you all: Read the rest of this entry »

Mapping the MarComm Continuum

Posted by Clayton Lord On October - 6 - 2011

Clayton Lord

As the marketing and communications director at an arts service organization, I’m often approached by marketing directors at our over 300 member companies with questions about various channels of marketing and communications.

Recently, a frazzled executive director at a small company (one of those that often doesn’t have a dedicated or even semi-dedicated marketing person) contacted me to have a conversation about social media. She had a board member who thought they could expand their reach dramatically by reaching out through social media, and she wanted to know how to create a Facebook page to do that.

I was sad to have to tell her that that strategy probably wasn’t going to work. The truth of the matter is that social media, like all the tools in the marcomm toolkit, has a specific spectrum of usefulness—and unfortunately, the type of social media interactions she was talking about just weren’t going to get her very much traction with people who didn’t know or care about her organization already.

Whenever I think about a marcomm plan, I work in my head with a very basic and non-scientific spectrum, stretching from what I term “engagement” (i.e. making those who already know you feel more engaged with you) to “development” (i.e. making those who don’t know you, well, know you). Read the rest of this entry »