The SIMPHONY Project: How Does Music Change a Child’s Brain?

Posted by Dalouge Smith On March - 20 - 2015

Dalouge Smith

Dalouge Smith

Dr. John Iversen

Dr. John Iversen

Music is a central part of life for many of us, whether we listen, dance or play. It makes us feel good, or transports our imagination, but what is going on in our brain? Can music be used to help an ailing brain, or boost a learning one? An emerging field of Music Cognition is studying these important questions using new tools such as brain imaging that allow us to examine how the brain is changed by music. In this post we would like to tell you about one study we are doing that is trying to answer some of these questions. Read the rest of this entry »

Five Reasons Not to Forget Special Education Students

Posted by Stephen Marc Beaudoin On March - 19 - 2015
Stephen Marc Beaudoin

Stephen Marc Beaudoin

They’re often left behind.

Left out of the discussion. Forgotten. Not on the stage or missing from the page. Frequently not even in the room.

I’m talking about students experiencing disability, or special education students.

In the swirling national dialogue on arts education and cognitive development, it is surprising to see how infrequently students experiencing disability are included as part of the research and discussion.

As K-12 schools everywhere are realizing that, if well implemented, inclusive classrooms can lead to better student outcomes, it is critical that the voices and talents of students experiencing disability are included. Read the rest of this entry »

Why English Language Learners need the arts

Posted by Rebecca Burrell On March - 19 - 2015
Rebecca Burrell

Rebecca Burrell

When you take a look at the numbers, it’s clear that in coming years our public schools will enroll more English Language Learners than ever before. According to research by the Pew Charitable Trust, by 2050 34% of children under age 17 in the United States will be either immigrants or children of immigrants.

We also know that public school teachers are by and large white—over 80% as of the 2011-12 school year—leaving vast cultural and language gaps between teachers and their students. (Read more about that on page 20 of this report.)

So, what is the arts’ role in helping teachers reach English Language Learners? Making the arts a central part of any classroom can help deliver content in powerful new ways to excite more kids. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Education and Cognition: A Caution and a Path Forward

Posted by Peter Duffy On March - 17 - 2015
Peter Duffy

Peter Duffy

When I talk with teachers around the country about arts education and cognition they all ask the same question, “What research can I show my principal to prove the benefit of arts education?” It is as if teachers seek a holy grail that will prove once and for all its significant value. Teachers want to verify art education’s impact to prevent its relegation to a merely fun or acculturating activity within schools. Their question is an important and, of course, complicated one. Read the rest of this entry »

All Writing Is Creative Writing

Posted by BJ Buckley On March - 17 - 2015
BJ Buckley

BJ Buckley

What is thinking? Are there different modes of thought? How do we learn? Why do we respond so powerfully and intensely to the world’s beauty and to the beauty of things made by humans in response, to art in all its forms? What are the connections between our responses to paintings, music, dance, theater, poetry, and stories, our own impulses to make and create, and learning? Read the rest of this entry »

New Reasons to Teach and Learn Through the Arts

Posted by Mariale Hardiman On March - 16 - 2015
Mariale Hardiman

Mariale Hardiman

Do you still sing the alphabet when you need to recall the order of letters? Do you chant the poem “Thirty Days Hath September…” when trying to remember how many days there are in a month? Now think about your time in school. My guess is that, like me, you remember school plays, a catchy song when you studied a foreign language, or the content of a science or history lesson when you made a poster or diorama. Yet, how many of us remember the content of the tests or quizzes we took in school? Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Education and Cognitive Development: Compiling the Research

Posted by Jeff Poulin On March - 16 - 2015
Jeff Poulin

Jeff Poulin

More and more, we at Americans for the Arts are talking about the transformative power of the arts, echoing the work that has happened at a local level in the arts across America for the past several decades. However, as I move more and more into the education space, I hear a call for the hard facts amongst the heart-warming stories. Education decision makers want to see results, they want to see change, and they want to draw a correlation between the two.

As a professional arts education advocate, I can keep up with most of these requests, but recently I found myself at a bit of a cross roads. I was in Los Angeles, speaking with a self-described ‘music education evangelist,’ who was telling me all about some research that had been conducted on the impact of arts education on the cognitive functions of the brain. Arts Education, he said, could work to close the opportunity gap faster than other – more conventional – tactics. Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2015

Posted by Randy Cohen On March - 13 - 2015
Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen

With the arts advocacy season fully upon us, the following is my updated “10 Reasons to Support the Arts.” Changes this year include updating #3 with the BEA’s new Arts in the GDP research, #8 to include a statement about the benefits of the arts in the military, and #10 includes the new Creative Industries data (now current as of January 2015).

This is just one of many arrows to include in your arts advocacy quiver. While it’s a helpful one, we know there are many more reasons to support the arts. What are yours? Please share your #11 (and more!) in the comments section below. What a great collection we can build together. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s Measured, Matters . . .

Posted by Randy Cohen On March - 11 - 2015
Randy Cohen

Randy Cohen

BEA’s Arts in the GDP Study: What Next?

In January 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) released its revised Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account (ACPSA)—a set of measures of arts and culture in the economy, including its share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Much has been written about the truly mind-bending sum of $698.7 billion in industry expenditures—a substantial contributor to the economy that supported 4.7 million jobs in 2012 and represented 4.32 percent of GDP. Read the rest of this entry »

Youth Arts – Pathways to Mastery

Posted by Myran Parker Brass On February - 25 - 2015
Myran Parker-Brass

Myran Parker-Brass

In 2009, the Boston Public Schools (BPS) committed to building and deepening arts education for all students K-12. They created the Arts Expansion Initiative (AEI). This commitment of the district, local funders and partners has resulted in:

  • increased numbers of certified arts teachers in our schools;
  • increased percentage of K-8 students receiving weekly arts instruction from 67% to 87%;
  • an increase of high school students receiving any arts instruction from 24% to 56%;
  • increased capacity for arts partners supporting arts education in schools.

We have made significant and steady progress in building back arts education as evidenced by the quality of our programs, the changing culture in our buildings, and the broad parent and community advocacy for arts education. Read the rest of this entry »

Making Major Asks to Private Donors

Posted by John Bryan On February - 18 - 2015
John Bryan

John Bryan

There is a gigantic, come-and-have-some, boatload of private sector money available to all arts organizations. New research from Richmond, Virginia confirms that most don’t ask for it.

What’s the pot of money? It is the money in personal pocketbooks of the arts organizations’ most loyal constituents: pocketbooks that already make ongoing donations in response to grassroots solicitations such as direct mail, special events, and crowd-source platforms. But new research shows that most arts organizations rarely have personal, look-you-in-the-eye meetings with their best donors to ask for major amounts of money. The donor who loyally and happily writes an annual $1,000 check never experiences a personal meeting to ask for $25,000. Read the rest of this entry »

Where Does Corporate Giving to the Arts Go?

Posted by Lane Harwell On February - 12 - 2015
Lane Harwell

Lane Harwell

Recent studies by Americans for the Arts, Giving USA, and others have drawn welcome public attention to the role of corporate giving in the creative ecology–some sounding alarms and others offering rays of hope.

Now, the organization I run, Dance/NYC, is weighing in with State of NYC Dance and Corporate Giving, which segments available Cultural Data Project data on dance group budget size, type and geography to address equity in the distribution of resources. No matter how we segment the data, the findings are bleak for most dance groups and invite collective action to enlarge and stabilize business support. Read the rest of this entry »

Using Art for Data Collection

Posted by Crystal Benavides On January - 13 - 2015
Crystal Benavides

Crystal Benavides

Inspired by the shift toward outcome-driven art projects, I was struck by arts potential to be used as a technique for data collection. When we look at art, we tend to focus primarily on its aesthetic and emotive qualities. We think about art as the result of an action and not as a conduit or vehicle leading up to a result. For example, the creation of a painting begins by gathering materials (canvas, brushes, and paint) and using these materials to create a painting. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Education: Ten Things to Remember from 2014

Posted by Jeff Poulin On January - 9 - 2015
Jeff Poulin

Jeff Poulin

I can now affirmatively say that I have been at Americans for the Arts for over a year! Woohoo! …And what a year it has been.

Each month the Arts Education Advisory Council of Americans for the Arts has a monthly call. In December, we sat on the call reflecting on the previous year and what we had all accomplished personally, collectively, and throughout the field. In my role as the Arts Education Program Coordinator, I am privileged to see a lot of things that happen on a national scale across the country, and the council often provides insight into the impacts of these trends or brings my attention to something that is up-and-coming before it has actually made a splash.

In our reflective state, we began compiling a list of the ten things that every arts-interested person should know about arts education from 2014 – it was an incredible year! Read the rest of this entry »

Jordan Shue

Jordan Shue

Nearly 40 years after its founding by the Arts & Business Council in 1975, the Business Volunteers for the Arts® network is holding strong, according to the 2014 BVA survey results.

Business Volunteers for the Arts® (BVA) is a national skills-based management consulting program operated by a network of organizations across the country under the leadership and coordination of Americans for the Arts. It pairs nonprofit arts groups with specially trained business executives who volunteer their time and skills to assist with distinct management projects. Though the number of active BVAs has fallen slightly in the past year, those still operating them are running robust programs that seek to fill an active need in the communities in which they operate, both for the arts organizations receiving pro bono support and the businesses that encourage their employees to give their time and skills to the arts. Read the rest of this entry »