A New Era for Arts in New York City Schools?

Posted by Doug Israel On February - 26 - 2014
Doug Israel

Doug Israel

Over the course of the past several years, big cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle have been advancing ambitious plans to expand access to arts education and creative learning for public school students. Here in New York City – home of the nation’s largest school district – with a new mayor and schools chancellor, and a growing chorus of parents calling for the inclusion of arts in the school day, there is momentum gathering that could lead to a much-overdue expansion of arts and music in city schools.

This December, at the close of his 12 years in office, New York City’s former Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law a City Council bill that would require the Department of Education to provide annual data on arts instruction that advocates believe will help identify gaps in the delivery of arts education and drive improvements in what is being offered at schools across the city.

While strides were made in expanding access to arts instruction at many schools across the city over the past decade, large gaps persist in the provision of music, dance, theater and visual arts in the over 1,800 New York City public schools.

That is why on the heels of the successful effort to pass the arts reporting legislation, advocates and leaders from a diverse cross section of New York, released a statement calling on the city to ensure that every child, in every part of the city, receives arts instruction as part of their K-12 education.

The statement – entitled “Every Child in Every School: A Vision for Arts and Creativity in New York City Public Schools” –notes that New York City – with its rich and diverse array of arts and cultural experiences and organizations – is uniquely positioned to be the leader in arts and creative education. Read the rest of this entry »

STEM to STEAM Reflections (v. 2)

Posted by Talia Gibas On May - 14 - 2013
Talia Gibas

Talia Gibas

Four years ago, when I first heard the phrase “turn STEM to STEAM” – i.e. add the arts to the federally-recognized acronym for science, technology, engineering and math — I was skeptical.

As a theater geek born to a physician and biologist, I understood that the artistic process and scientific process have a lot in common, and that participants in each arena can learn a lot from one another.

My skepticism was not rooted in whether the arts and sciences are connected. What was missing for me as the “STEM to STEAM” mantra started to pick up more and more (ahem) steam was an articulation of how they are connected. Sure, there are elements of geometry in visual art, and yes, you need to understand basic math in order to read music or follow rhythms in dance. But arranging letters on a page is one thing; bringing different disciplines together in a thoughtful and authentic way is something entirely different.

In my mind, the ability to articulate and explore the authentic relationships between the S, T, E, A and M is crucial.  The arts and the STEM subjects have similar processes, but provide different means of understanding what currently exist, as well as imagining what does not yet exist. If we want the STEM to STEAM movement to have longevity, we need to get specific about what those relationships are. Read the rest of this entry »

Reduce Crime & SCURVY in Your Town – Grow Public Fruit!

Posted by Janet Owen Driggs On April - 19 - 2013
Janet Owen Driggs

Janet Owen Driggs

My headline was intended to be something of an eye-catcher—who can resist a story about crime and scurvy, right?

Best of all, my claim is true. The thinking goes something like this:

  • Scurvy, the clinical manifestation of vitamin C deficiency, is on the rise in developed nations. In the United Kingdom, for example, reported cases of childhood scurvy rose 57% between 2005–2008.
  • Public health studies indicate that poverty is driving the re-emergence of the disease.
  • Access to free, fresh, vitamin-c rich foods will reduce incidents of scurvy.

Ergo: planting fruit trees and vegetables in public spaces will reduce scurvy.

And what about crime, I hear you ask? Well, since 2008, a project in Todmorden, UK, has been growing fruits and vegetables in seventy public beds dotted around the town.

The produce is free to whoever chooses to pick it, and, as Incredible Edible co-founder Pam Warhurst explains: “The police have told us that, year on year, there has been a reduction in vandalism since we started.” She continues: “If you take a grass verge that was used as a litter bin and a dog toilet and turn it into a place full of herbs and fruit trees, people won’t vandalise it.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Falcon Cannot Hear the Falconer…

Posted by Matty Wilder On April - 16 - 2013
Matty Wilder

Matty Wilder

As someone engaged in local arts philanthropy, as well as with a group of diverse leaders trying to change communities through organizing, I ask myself often what would make where I live a better place. But to think about this question in earnest means actually trying to define where exactly I live.

As a resident of Southern California for almost 13 years, I’ve pretty much bounced around to all corners of Los Angeles, though my current zip code has me in the “small town” of Santa Monica.

I do business all over the county, crossing city and municipality lines as often as I turn right on red, and the foundation where I work as program officer serves communities ranging from those just around the corner from our Santa Monica office to the Foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains to the neighborhoods around LAX to East and South Los Angeles. (For those of you not from the area, Los Angeles County is about 4,700 square miles, with 81 school districts, 88 cities, and accounts for 27% of California’s population).

So while the massive redevelopment of our downtown area over the last decade may not directly affect my quiet residential neighborhood on the west side, I still want to participate in understanding how it’s going to shape a community and the local economy; though I may not be able to vote for the next mayor of Los Angeles, which frustrates me endlessly—but that’s for another blog post—I still care about and can have a voice in the outcome by learning about the candidates and engaging them on issues I care about.  Read the rest of this entry »

Creative Alchemy (or How Arts & Culture Voters Can Change Los Angeles)

Posted by Danielle Brazell On February - 1 - 2013
Danielle Brazell

Danielle Brazell

It’s election season in the City of Los Angeles. Eleven candidates are vying for the mayoral seat and a whopping 40 are vying for eight city council seats. Because of these changes in representation, the political landscape in Los Angeles will shift significantly.

We—as artists, as creative entrepreneurs, as arts administrators, curators, audience members, parents, and students—have the opportunity to leverage our collective voice to help chose who will represent our values.

Although forbidden by IRS regulations to endorse specific candidates, nonprofits can initiate a public dialogue about the role arts and culture play in building healthy, vibrant, and prosperous communities. And, for the past seven years, Arts for LA has been doing just that.

Our nonpartisan candidate survey is a way for prospective leaders to map out their vision for our city. Just four questions—and the 100 word responses from each candidate—have provided a window into what those running for office in the City of Los Angeles would do to invest in creativity:

  1. What was a meaningful arts and cultural experience you had growing up?
  1. What do you believe the role the City should play in the development and support of the region’s cultural infrastructure?
  1. How would you champion modifications to, or expansion of the City’s current funding stream for local arts and culture?
  1. What three things would you do to deepen the City’s investment in its creative economy (cultural tourism, in-direct and direct jobs, nonprofit, and for profit)?  Read the rest of this entry »

Immigration Reform and the Arts

Posted by Nina Ozlu Tunceli On January - 15 - 2013

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa speaks at The National Press Club.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was the keynote speaker yesterday at the National Press Club here in Washington, DC.

As he completes his final term as mayor this year, and as the immediate past president of The United States Conference of Mayors, Mayor Villaraigosa delivered his vision on the main issue that he plans to continue working on going forward—urging Congress to pass immigration reform and create pathways to citizenship, leaving immigration enforcement agents to focus on violent criminals and give those who have not been through the criminal justice system an opportunity to become citizens.

While a direct connection to the arts isn’t obvious, immigration reform is an issue that also impacts artists and nonprofit arts and cultural organizations. For instance, foreign guest artists continue to have problems entering the United States in order to attend their exhibitions and performing events.

Americans for the Arts has been working to amend immigration reform legislation to include streamlining this provision for several years. Here is part of our “Statement of Concern” utilized as part of our Arts Advocacy Day efforts last year: Read the rest of this entry »

Unpacking Shared Delivery of Arts Education

Posted by Talia Gibas On December - 18 - 2012
Talia Gibas

Talia Gibas

When some brave soul writes an updated history of arts education in the United States (any takers?) I think he or she will describe the early-to-mid-2000s as an ambitious era. The arts education sector, mirroring the broader arts field and the constantly reforming field of education, is having larger and broader conversations about impact, outcomes, and sustainability. In the process it’s moving toward large and broader models of best practice such as the idea of  “shared delivery” (also known as “blended delivery” and the “three-legged stool model”).

Shared delivery has been in vogue for the last few years. It was a central topic of conversation at the Grantmakers in the Arts Conference in 2008. Americans for the Arts identifies shared delivery as a key component to a broader approach called “coordinated delivery”—which, in turn, was identified as a major arts education trend in 2010. My own initiative, Arts for All, upholds shared delivery as integral to the vision of ensuring high quality arts education for all students in Los Angeles County.

In the K–12 public school setting, shared delivery envisions students receiving arts instruction from three distinct parties: 1) generalist elementary school teachers, 2) arts specialists, and 3) teaching artists and/or community arts organizations.

Under this model, the three collaborate to provide visual and performing arts programs to children. The generalist teacher integrates the arts throughout daily lessons across subject areas, the specialist hones in on skills and content specific to his or her art form, and the teaching artist supports one or both while engaging directly with students and providing the perspective of a working arts professional. The model posits that each of these three roles is of equal importance…

(Editor’s Note: To read more of Talia’s post (reprinted here with permission), visit Createquity.com where it was originally published on December 3, 2012.)

Creative Placemaking As Continuous Exchange

Posted by Laura Ng On November - 12 - 2012

Laura Ng

Arts administrators, emerging philanthropists, cultural patrons, and arts practitioners converged at the Atwater Village Theater on October 20 for Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles‘ full-day Creative Conversation, asking again, what is “creative placemaking”? Or, in the long-form title, to explore “Sparking Inclusive Dialogue Through Creative Placemaking.”

Dan Kwong, project leader for Great Leap’s COLLABORATORY, may have put it best when he compared broaching the question to the ambivalence and trepidation felt when one is asked to measure the impact of arts on social building.

With disciplines as divergent as Anne Bray’s work in media arts, Dan Kwong in performance, and Brian Janeczko in architecture and industrial design/fabrication, one unifying outlook voiced by the panelists was that creative placemaking must happen organically with a collaborative conscientiousness responsive to a specific community.

Keynote speaker John Malpede framed the particularity of elements needed to come together by sharing his own experience at the Los Angeles Poverty Department, which he founded almost serendipitously.

The performance artist volunteered with a group of lawyers offering their services pro-bono to the residents of L.A.’s Skid Row until he became a de facto paralegal, who so galvanized the community that those same clients involved themselves into launching self-produced dramatic performances.

With no permanent headquarters, their activities attracted the attention of screenwriters from other parts of the city and instigating conversations with numerous neighborhood organizations, such as LAMP and the Skid Row Players’ drummers, materializing improvement amenities such as the “funky trash cans” provided by OG Man that would not be readily perceived as an urgent need to those outside in what they termed Normalville. Read the rest of this entry »

Common Core Standards: Let Arts Educators Lead the Way

Posted by Jeanne Hoel On September - 14 - 2012

Jeanne Hoel

Though I’m typically standards-adverse (yet dutiful), I’m looking forward to the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS), specifically to their potential to de-isolate subject areas, including art.

I feel the CCSS reflect the work progressive educators have been doing for years and frame that work elegantly. I believe art educators can be important change agents and looked to as experts in this time of transition to CCSS, but it will require specialized pedagogical and leadership training. In a time of constricting budgets, especially for professional development, I am doubtful if this can happen.

Arts and Standards

In my tenure as a program manager at MOCA, I’ve witnessed several phases of what I’ll call Standards Service. About ten years ago, the pendulum swung hard for museums to make their programs more standards-based or at the very least standards-conversant.

It was important to do so in order to help teachers advocate for art education by showing how their work met Visual and Performing Art Standards (VAPA), as well as those of English, Social Studies, and Science. But often I felt I was paying lip service to a bureaucratic requirement rather than furthering valid educational objectives. Because we were working with wonderfully transgressive contemporary art at MOCA, we were inherently doing big, thinking-based, cross-disciplinary work—something the current standards don’t easily accommodate.

I feel differently about the CCSS. At their core lie thinking skills and habits of mind that transcend subject area boundaries and ideally equip students to negotiate growing waves of data and complex decision-making requirements they will face as citizens of global cultures and economies.

Possibilities for Arts and Common Core

Looking specifically at the English Language Arts (ELA) of CCSS, there are elegant and immediate connections to be made. As a means of navigating the new ELA standards, I’ve found it useful to focus first on the Anchor Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening, and Language, which are consistent across all grade levels. Read the rest of this entry »

Defining Roles in Arts Education Delivery: A Healthy Discomfort

Posted by Talia Gibas On September - 4 - 2012
Talia Gibas

Talia Gibas

On my first day of my Ed.M program in arts education I was asked to reflect on a simple series of questions:

Do you consider yourself an educator? Why or why not?

Do you consider yourself an artist? Why or why not?

I’ve gone through a few ‘Nervous Nelly’ phases in my life, one of which coincided with my starting graduate school. These questions threw my ‘Nervous Nelly’ into an existential panic. It seemed crucial that I find a satisfying “yes” to both questions. If I couldn’t, well, clearly I was some sort of fraud.

At the time, that exercise seemed like a really big deal. Today, I can’t even remember how I answered the questions. My ultimate takeaway came later, when I compared my classmates’ reflections to my own.

I was one of a diverse group—classroom teachers, musicians, museum educators, arts administrators, etc. We had different skills, backgrounds, and inclinations that would lead us to go on to play different roles in the arts education ecosystem when our program was over. Whether we agreed on a definition of “artist” didn’t matter. What mattered was that we honor the broad and deep skill sets in the room and support and complement their differences.

My personal “artist-and-or-educator” identity crisis was an experience with healthy discomfort. I hope the broader arts education community can find the same in the recent white paper put out by the State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education (SAEDAE).

Roles of Certified Arts Educators, Certified Non-Arts Educators, and Providers of Supplemental Arts Instruction attempts to unpack the “shared delivery” model of arts instruction that many arts education initiatives, including Arts for All, state as their ultimate goal.

It describes strengths and limitations of the three key partners involved in teaching the arts in public schools—named as certified arts educators, certified non-arts educators, and providers of supplemental arts instruction. Read the rest of this entry »

ICYMI: ARTSblog in August

Posted by Tim Mikulski On August - 31 - 2012

I’ve been trying to take the time at the end of each month to review some posts that you might have missed, and since August is a particularly vacation-filled month, I figured why not start now?

In case you missed it (ICYMI), here are some highlights from ARTSblog in August:

  • Arts Education Council member Jessica Wilt honored the memory of fellow council member Alyx Kellington who passed away in late July.
  • I found a video providing a tour of the public art and transportation project taking place in St. Paul, MN.
  • Arts for All’s Laura Zucker shared lessons learned as her Los Angeles-based organization celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Don’t forget to check ARTSblog often for new content, as we try to publish at least one new post each day, and keep an eye out for our second Arts Education Blog Salon the week of September 10!

It Takes a Village in Arts Education (Part 1)

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On August - 28 - 2012

Since I started my tenure at Americans for the Arts, we’ve been discussing variations on the theme of: “It takes a village to educate a child.”

During the 2011 Annual Convention, we had two arts education leaders (Ayanna Hudson and Margie Reese) discuss how this works in their respective communities. At the time, we were calling this phenomenon “coordinated delivery.”

We featured this trend in our Fall issue of ArtsLink. “Tete-a-Tete: Integrated Arts Education Approaches” defines coordinated delivery as “collaboration across communities for both shared delivery of arts instruction by arts specialists, teaching artists, and general classroom teachers AND shared leadership for arts education among arts agencies, education agencies, parents, and businesses.”

The article highlights the similarities and differences between two well-known coordinated delivery systems in the country: Arts for All in Los Angeles (Ayanna) and Big Thought in Dallas (Margie).

Here are two charts to illustrate the idea of coordinated delivery:

Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons Learned: Arts for All Always Adapts

Posted by Laura Zucker On August - 10 - 2012

Laura Zucker

Arts for All staff can attest to the fact that the capacity to be adaptable, the knack to be nimble, is a key to continued success.

Following the 1978 passage of Proposition 13, arts education in Los Angeles County’s 81 school districts began to deteriorate to varying degrees. In the late 1990s a coalition of L.A. county arts leaders and advocates met to discuss problems, such as arts education, that could be addressed only by organizations working together. One result was Arts for All, formed as a public-private partnership in 2002 to empower school districts to build infrastructures for arts education and integrate arts into the core curriculum.

Now Arts for All is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a network of more than 100 partners including school districts, artists, arts and education organizations, corporations and foundations.

There is a shared belief in laying a strong foundation for arts education in the school districts and building their capacity to deliver arts education. The approach, which is now being adopted by others across the country, is to create a plan for the long term, collaboratively and systemically across Los Angeles County.

In the world of arts education, one size does not fit all. There is a tremendous variation in the level and quality of arts education within schools and districts across the county. The Arts for All   staff  has learned to customize programs to meet the needs at hand within distinct districts.

Sofia Klatzker, who directs grants programs for the LA County Arts Commission, is a ten-year veteran of Arts for All. She says that even though no two districts are alike, staff discovered that most district leaders believe that the arts are important to the core curriculum. “We do not have to sell the idea of arts ed per se,” says Klatzker. “We have to promote implementation.”

Throughout the decade, school district realities have shifted. For example, having a district-level arts coordinator seemed both imperative and realistic at one time. Now it is understood that someone within the district dedicated to coordinating the arts education plan implementation is important, but it can no longer be expected that the person is dedicated to the arts full-time. District level administrators now often wear many hats due to budgetary constraints. Read the rest of this entry »

Olga Garay

With a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts’ Mayors’ Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative received in 2009, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA/LA) launched the planning stages for the “Broadway Arts Center” (BAC).

Envisioned as a mixed-use affordable artists’ housing, performance/exhibition space, educational facility, and creative commercial center, and located in the Historic Broadway Theater District in downtown Los Angeles, the birthplace of vaudeville and cinema in the city, the BAC has been embraced by city government and the arts community alike.

In spite of its rich history and tremendous future potential, Broadway is currently viewed as not meeting its potential in a number of different ways. Broadway bustles during the day, but merchants are struggling with a 15–20 percent ground floor vacancy rate. This ground floor struggle is made worse when viewed in the context of more than a million square feet of vacant space in the upper floors along Broadway.

And while some theatres have been reactivated, most of the glorious historic theaters do not offer regular entertainment programming, and Broadway doesn’t serve the needs of the diverse downtown community—especially at night. DCA/LA strongly believes that this situation will quickly turn around when a cadre of artists, professors, and college students, living and working in the area, make Downtown their home.

Led by DCA/LA, the core project team includes the City Planning Department’s Urban Design Studio and Bringing Back Broadway, a 10-year initiative to revitalize the historic Broadway corridor.

Nonprofit partners include The Actors Fund Housing Development Corporation, a service organization dedicated to creating affordable housing for performing arts professionals; Artspace, the country’s premier organization dedicated to developing affordable spaces for artists and arts organizations; Local Initiative Support Corporation, an organization dedicated to helping nonprofit community development organizations transform neighborhoods; and the California Institute for the Arts (CalArts), an award-winning higher education institution dedicated to training and nurturing the next generation of professional artists. Read the rest of this entry »

Public Art Creates an Elevated Mood

Posted by Helen Lessick On July - 6 - 2012

I went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) last week to see Levitated Mass.

I love Michael Heizer’s work and travel miles to see it. His commissioned projects in Seattle and Reno are my places of cultural tourism. I saw Double Negative in decay in 1980 and City Complex in its early nineties form. I also love rocks. Igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic—I find in them extraordinary sculptures of time.

I loved the celebration of the journey of the rock (check out this video of the voyage) as it traveled from the quarry to the art museum at 11 miles per hour.

So the odd thing is that the rock isn’t the star in Heizer’s new commission. It’s the trench.

The trench is the star of “Levitated Mass.”

Levitated Mass is about the channel, the journey through the land. The 456-foot channel offers a tour of construction excellence and fetishistic form work. The concrete is polished to a matte marble finish; the finished edges and surfaces align perfectly over a huge distance. Even the discrete railing is a perfectly formed negative channel worthy of detail photos. Read the rest of this entry »

ARTSblog holds week-long Blog Salons, a series of posts by guest bloggers, that focus on an overarching theme within a core area of Americans for the Arts' work. Here are links to the most recent Salons:

Arts Education

Early Arts Education

Common Core Standards

Quality, Engagement & Partnerships

Emerging Leaders

Taking Communities to the Next Level

New Methods & Models

Public Art

Best Practices

Evaluation

Arts Marketing

Audience Engagement

Winning Audiences

Powered by Community

Animating Democracy

Arts & the Military

Scaling Up Programs & Projects

Social Impact & Evaluation

Humor & Social Change

Private Sector Initatives

Arts & Business Partnerships

Business Models in the Arts

Local Arts Agencies

Cultural Districts

Economic Development

Trends, Collaborations & Audiences

Art in Rural Communities

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.