Presenting Our Vans Custom Culture Grant Winning Schools

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On January - 15 - 2013

Learning in the arts enables every individual to develop the critical thinking, collaborative, and creative skills necessary to succeed in today’s ever-changing world. Vans and its national charity partner Americans for the Arts envision a country where every child has access to—and takes part in–high quality learning experiences in the arts, both in school and in the community.

Americans for the Arts is pleased to announce, as a component of its ongoing partnership with Vans, the winners of the inaugural year of the Vans Custom Culture Grant Program. This new grant program seeks to increase both visibility for and resources available to schools across the country who are engaged in working to sustain the arts as a vital part of education.

The grant program is supported by funds from Vans Custom Culture—an art competition whose winners design a shoe that is produced and sold by Vans. (Make sure your school registers to enter the shoe design competition to win up to $50,000 for its art education program!)

Vans Custom Culture Grants are available to public high schools (grades 9-12) that have allowed arts education to thrive in their school community. The grants are intended to encourage the inclusion of the arts as an integral component of an excellent education, and to support activities that are consistent with local and national learning standards for arts education. Read the rest of this entry »

We Aren’t Preparing Young People for Careers at Disney or Apple

Posted by Lisa Phillips On January - 14 - 2013

Lisa Phillips with Steve Wozniak

There seems to be a major disconnect between how creativity is valued in society and the career advice we give our children. We all know that the arts are a valuable means of expression, a means to share stories across cultures and an uplifting and moving source of entertainment.

We revere our cultural icons, whether they are movie stars, literary authors or artists, but we seem to limit the possibility of careers in the arts to only a talented few.

How many of us arts professionals have heard from family and friends, “When are you going to get a real job?”

So, why do we put our cultural icons on a pedestal but undervalue arts education? I think one of the reasons is that as a society we are preoccupied with the idea that the arts are reserved only for those with talent. However, in the reality of today’s job market, we need to change this idea.

There is a significant gap between what children are told is important for their future career success and what business leaders actually want from the emerging workforce. Creative individuals are actually in demand. Not just for arts careers, but for careers in business as well.

For example, Disney and Apple are two of the most successful companies of our time, largely because of the creativity, innovation, and the leadership they have demonstrated in their respective industries.

In an era when businesses are constantly struggling to find creative ways to stay at the top of their market, arts education can be a powerful tool to nurture the creative abilities of our young people, ensuring they are ready for the skills that are in demand. Read the rest of this entry »

Artist Charlavail designed this amazing pair of Vans.

As a Vans Custom Culture national charity partner in 2013, Americans for the Arts is proud to work closely with Vans to reinforce the importance of arts education in schools across the country.

With the launch of the Vans Custom Culture art competition on January 2, budding artists and designers are racing to have their teachers fill registration slots open to the first 1,500 U.S.-based public or private high schools (more than 650 have already entered!).

The program, in its fourth iteration, pushes students to compete and create a work of art from a blank pair of Vans shoes. Each blank shoe must be designed by using the following themes: Art, Music, Action Sports, and Local Flavor.

Students will have until April 5 to complete the shoes and submit their images online. The Custom Culture competition will generate $50,000 for the winning school’s art program at the final judging in New York this summer while simultaneously drawing attention to the importance of art as an integral part of a well-rounded education.

Artists, fashion designers, athletes, and local news anchors are all being tapped to create their own custom shoes as Ambassadors of the program. Eager to provide inspiration wherever possible, Ambassadors are tweeting images (#VansCustomCulture) of their own custom designs. Some of our favorites can be found below and also on the Vans Custom Culture siteRead the rest of this entry »

Use Arts Integration to Enhance Common Core

Posted by Susan Riley On December - 20 - 2012

Susan Riley

These days, integration in any area, be it STEM or the arts, seems to be the buzzword to curriculum designers everywhere. There are so many resources floating around out there with the claim of integrating content areas. Yet, true integration is often difficult to find. Indeed, integration is a rare yet seemingly “magical” approach that has the capacity to turn learning into meaningful practice.

Which of course, as any teacher will tell you, is anything but magic.

Integration requires collaboration, research, intentional alignment, and practical application on behalf of the teachers who take on this challenge. From the students, integration demands creativity, problem-solving, perseverance, collaboration, and the ability to work through the rigorous demands of multiple ideas and concepts woven together to create a final product.

Integration is not simply combining two or more contents together. It is an approach to teaching which includes intentional identification of naturally aligned standards, taught authentically alongside meaningful assessments which take both content areas to a whole new level. Put together, these components set the foundation for how we will be able to facilitate the Common Core State Standards. Read the rest of this entry »

An Artist Reflects on Growth through the Eyes of His Community

Posted by Regin Igloria On December - 6 - 2012

Regin Igloria

Staying small sounds a bit counter-intuitive to creative types, especially artists.

Take into consideration the many years of art school where teachers keep telling students to “work bigger” so that they can “see that piece done on a much larger scale.” Sometimes it speaks beyond the formal issues of a piece: understanding that the effectiveness of its meaning and concept can be directly related to the size of the audience it has reached.

I’ve been thinking about this topic of scale my entire career, not just as a studio artist, but as a teacher and arts administrator who constantly has to create opportunities for others in the field while maintaining some sense of respect for my own creative ambitions.

My full-time paying gig is serving as the Director of Artists-In-Residence at The Ragdale Foundation, where artists, writers, and composers are offered time and space to get important work done.

As administrators, we are constantly balancing the working conditions of the artists, especially when it comes time to “gather round the dinner table.” Yes, sometimes the space where we consume our food is more important than the size of the studio where we make work.

We’ve kept the number of residents to about a dozen residents per session, so everyone can sit family-style at one large table rather than in separate clique-y style cafeteria tables. This is just one example of how to keep the residents engaged with appropriate peers (Author’s Note: You can read about the various types of programs through the Alliance of Artist Communities.) Read the rest of this entry »

Hope is Vital…But Is It Scalable?

Posted by Michael Rohd On December - 3 - 2012

Michael Rohd

In 1991, I founded a theater-based civic dialogue program in Washington, DC called Hope Is Vital. It brought a group of local teens and a group of HIV+ men who were receiving services at a center called Health Care for the Homeless into meaningful, productive collaboration with each other.

For 18 months, we created and conducted performance workshops all over the metro D.C. area for hundreds of young people focused on HIV/AIDS prevention and sexuality education. We worked at schools, youth shelters, correctional facilities, hospital drop-in clinics, churches, and afterschool programs.

After a period of challenging but immensely rewarding work, we felt that our approach—our model—could be useful in other places. The group gave me a mission: take our product, which was in fact a process, and try, at the age of 25, to head out into the world and spread the word.

Pre-email and pre-cellphone, I accepted the recklessly ambitious and well-meaning, impact-based, artistic necessity of scaling up. Community by community, program by program. I spent almost seven years doing that. I learned some things.

First, do the thing

In 1993, one of the first things I did was write Madonna a letter. I asked her to help fund our idea for a national network of programs like ours. Instant scalability via pop star. She was a big funder of HIV/AIDS prevention work back in the day, so it was only a half crazy gesture. Madonna did not write me back. Read the rest of this entry »

The Top 10 Skills Children Learn From the Arts

Posted by Lisa Phillips On November - 26 - 2012

Lisa Phillips

1. Creativity – Being able to think on your feet, approach tasks from different perspectives and think ‘outside of the box’ will distinguish your child from others. In an arts program, your child will be asked to recite a monologue in 6 different ways, create a painting that represents a memory, or compose a new rhythm to enhance a piece of music. If children have practice thinking creatively, it will come naturally to them now and in their future career.

2. Confidence – The skills developed through theater, not only train you how to convincingly deliver a message, but also build the confidence you need to take command of the stage. Theater training gives children practice stepping out of their comfort zone and allows them to make mistakes and learn from them in rehearsal. This process gives children the confidence to perform in front of large audiences.

3. Problem Solving – Artistic creations are born through the solving of problems. How do I turn this clay into a sculpture? How do I portray a particular emotion through dance? How will my character react in this situation? Without even realizing it kids that participate in the arts are consistently being challenged to solve problems. All this practice problem solving develops children’s skills in reasoning and understanding. This will help develop important problem-solving skills necessary for success in any career.

4. Perseverance – When a child picks up a violin for the first time, she/he knows that playing Bach right away is not an option; however, when that child practices, learns the skills and techniques and doesn’t give up, that Bach concerto is that much closer. In an increasingly competitive world, where people are being asked to continually develop new skills, perseverance is essential to achieving success.

5. Focus – The ability to focus is a key skill developed through ensemble work. Keeping a balance between listening and contributing involves a great deal of concentration and focus. It requires each participant to not only think about their role, but how their role contributes to the big picture of what is being created. Recent research has shown that participation in the arts improves children’s abilities to concentrate and focus in other aspects of their lives. Read the rest of this entry »

Teacher Gets to Core Curriculum through the Blues

Posted by Jon Schwartz On November - 20 - 2012

Jon rocks out with students.

By day I am an elementary school teacher; by night I’m a wannabe blues musician. For years I kept these two callings separate, but with the Kids Like Blues Band, I found a way to combine my love for the blues and teaching.

By using blues music to engage kids in academic core subjects and the visual and performing arts, my students and I have discovered an innovative program that has brought endless creativity and excitement to thematic, standards-based teaching.

The gig hasn’t ended there though—we’ve taken our act on the road and performed at a street fair, a local college, and live on television. My students and I approach school with a sense of excitement and eagerness, motivated by the blues and rocking out each day!

In addition to having tons of fun, we’ve received recognition from the academic community. The U.S. Department of Education recently featured our work in their “Teaching Matters” newsletter, KPBS-TV did a feature on us, and several professors of education are using our videos to teach their students how to integrate the visual and performing arts into academic instruction.

Using Blues as a Thematic Teaching Tool

Wondering how this creative approach to learning works? Check out this video: Read the rest of this entry »

Arts Education Campaign Yields Results in Portland

Posted by Eloise Damrosch On November - 19 - 2012

Eloise Damrosch

On November 6, Portland voters passed ballot measure 26-146 to restore arts and music programs in Portland schools and fund arts access citywide.

Needless to say, we are thrilled with the results—the measure passed with 62% approval! Measure 26-126 creates a new income tax of $35 per income-earning resident (above the federal poverty level), which will generate an estimated $12.5 million every year starting in 2013.

Approximately $6.8 million will pay for 68.5 certified arts education teachers in Portland’s school districts (Centennial, David Douglas, Parkrose, Portland Public, Reynolds, and Riverdale) —that’s one arts specialist for every 500 students. Districts receiving these funds will be required to maintain weekly arts instruction in grades K–5.

In addition, the new tax will generate about $5.7 million per year for our local arts agency:

  • $3.8 million will fund arts organizations that provide arts programming and access for every Portland resident through RACC’s general support grants program
  • $1.6 million will fund project grants to schools and arts organizations that provide arts programming for K-12 students and underserved residents
  • $366,000 is being set aside to coordinate arts education programs across Portland’s six school districts. Our partnership with the Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child program will be our foundation for this work.

In the months ahead, we will be having lots of conversations with local arts organizations to help them build plans that leverage these resources. Our ultimate goal is to improve arts access in the City of Portland and build new audiences. Read the rest of this entry »

A Marketing Student’s Perspective on NAMPC

Posted by Trenten Derryberry On November - 15 - 2012

Trenten Derryberry

This was my first time attending not only the National Arts Marketing Project Conference (NAMPC), but also any conference. I am very happy to conclude that my experience was amazing and I would recommend this to anyone that is in any marketing field (and also if you are a student)!

I was asked to write this post-NAMPC piece to deliver a student perspective on the conference…here it goes!

Engagement, Mission, Alive, Active, Participatory, Stickiness, Contextualization, Spry, and Pray…all the words that come to my mind when I think of this past weekend (the list is endless!).

As a student, I came to NAMPC to primarily explore and listen to some of the TOP professionals in the marketing industry. What I received was something I wasn’t ready for.

Presenters sprawled from all areas of business (banks, agencies, venues, organizations, institutions)—both in and out of the confides of the performing arts, which I felt was an awesome exposure and a true springboard for discussions within the sessions.

Like I said earlier one of the reasons why I decided to attend was to listen and expand my critical thinking in an industry that I’m still learning about, that quickly changed to networking and participating within the sessions—I thought ‘when would be the next time I would be able to ask an audience engaging question directly to Alan Brown?’ So I did. Read the rest of this entry »

KRIS Wine ‘Art of Education’ Contest Winners Unveiled

Posted by Tim Mikulski On November - 13 - 2012

As you saw in a previous ARTSblog post, Brunswick Acres Elementary School in Kendall Park, NJ was very dedicated to winning the third annual “Art of Education” contest sponsored by KRIS Wine and Americans for the Arts.

Not only did this video help them jump out to an early lead, but it helped them score the top prize of $5,000 for their arts education programs:

Even more amazingly, they secured 16,000 of the 90,000 total votes in the contest!

Art teacher Suzanne Tiedemann plans to use the funds to support her recent “Shells for NJ Shores Program” for which students will create shell-themed art to raise money for those impacted by Hurricane Sandy late last month.

In addition, 15 other schools in 9 states will receive a total of $20,000. Read the rest of this entry »

John Eger

The International Council of Fine Arts Deans‘ (ICFAD) meeting in Minneapolis (October 24–27) for their annual conference talked about “Art as a Public Good”—meeting the demands for creativity and innovation, and serving the communities they represent, socially and economically.

Nurturing the talented performer, musician, or sculptor is of utmost importance to the fine arts deans and their universities. However, knowing that the arts, broadly defined, are being called on to shape the larger economic discussion—a national discussion, really—to change the way the whole country thinks about education, economic prowess in the global economy, and preparing our students for the new innovation sector, cries out for their leadership.

Lucinda Lavelli, dean of University of Florida and incoming President of ICFAD, kicked off the conference by talking about the concept of “the creative campus,” now adopted by several universities, “to establish educational settings that infuse the academy with the arts, foster creativity in all disciplines, promote interdisciplinary projects and encourage new ways of solving problems and expressing ideas.”

She asked several deans to talk about their university and how their college was collaborating with other colleges in business, engineering or the sciences, but more, she asked perhaps the biggest question of the conference: “What could—or should—the deans and their universities be doing” with their students, their alumni living in the area and through the town/gown relationships that exist, and how can others be engaged to help everyone in our community to think differently about the arts?

Quite simply, as Harvey White, co-founder and former president of Qualcomm, has been known to say, this is a “national emergency.” The clock is ticking, and when the dust settles after years of budgetary and fiscal malaise, the nation will desperately need young graduates with the new thinking skills for an economy that demands the most creative workforce. Read the rest of this entry »

Vans: Committed to Helping Visual Art in Schools

Posted by Adriane Fink On November - 5 - 2012

Generating $50,000 for the winning school’s art program while simultaneously drawing attention to the importance of art as an integral part of a well-rounded education, Vans Custom Culture comes back in its fourth iteration with registration opening on January 2, 2013:

The Vans Custom Culture Competition sparks the creativity and teamwork of art students across the country as they work together to design blank pairs of canvas shoes into wearable pieces of art.

Shoes are sent out in the month of February to the first 1,500 U.S.-based public or private high schools that register and students have until April 5 to complete the shoes and submit their images online.

Each registered school receives four blank canvas shoes they must design using the following themes: art, music, action sports, and local flavor—a design inspired by the surrounding community, city, or state.

An internal selection narrows the field down to 50 participants and the external online public vote whittles those 50 schools down to a group of five finalists who will be flown to New York City for the final judging in June 2013.

The winning school receives a $50,000 prize for their art program and the opportunity for the shoes to be produced and sold in Vans’ retail stores. The remaining schools won’t go home empty handed—the four runners-up will receive a cash prize of $4,000 towards their art program. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Arts Integration Working?

Posted by Ken Busby On September - 28 - 2012

Ken Busby

Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, discussed the importance of the arts to the overall education of our children:

“The arts are an important part of a well-rounded education for all students.  All of the arts—dance, music, theatre, and the visual artsare essential to preparing our nation’s young people for a global economy fueled by innovation and creativity and for a social discourse that demands communication in images and sound as well as in text.” 

He went on to say, “research shows that arts-rich schoolsones that provide opportunities for students to experience the arts in deep and meaningful ways and to make curricular connections with math, science, and the humanitiesare more engaging for students.”

And he referenced research that all of us in the arts education field have used for years saying, “We know that students who attend arts-rich schools are more likely to stay in school and go on to graduate from college.”

At the end of his comments, Duncan issued a challenge: “Now is the time to make the arts a vital part of a complete education for all students.”

Here’s the conundrum…

The U.S. Secretary of Education states what we know to be true. He states it with authority and without equivocation. And yet, we continue to see education budgets slashed year after year. And we continue to see the arts and art opportunities diminished within our schools in favor of more “time on task” for reading and math, and more testing. The disparity among schools is widening, with some really outstanding schools at the top, a few in the middle, and more and more considered “failing.” Typically, the schools with the lowest performing students are also the schools with the least amount of arts opportunities and integration.

What to do? Read the rest of this entry »

Keeping the Arts in Public Schools

Posted by Adriane Fink On September - 26 - 2012

KRIS Wine Art of Education contest

It’s a favorite time of year for students, teachers, and parents as the weather finally cools, leaves begin changing, and pumpkins pop up on every corner. Oh, and students across the country make the daily trek back to school.

For 16 lucky schools, those students and arts teachers can add a little more bounce to their steps. Last fall, consumers and arts advocates selected 16 grant winners by voting for their favorite K–12 public school during KRIS Wine’s Art of Education contest.

$25,000 was disseminated to schools all over the country to be used for arts programming. From Washington to Michigan and L.A. to Georgia, funds are being used for a wide range of projects. In an era where funding for strong arts programs consistently fall by the wayside, every extra dollar helps.

For the following schools KRIS Wine’s investment has made all the difference:

Kenmore Elementary, Kenmore, WA
Kenmore Elementary was the top awarded school in the KRIS wine “Art of Education” program. “We believe the money will greatly help us in continuing to provide an enriching educational experience,” said Principal Steve Hopkins. Kenmore Elementary plans to use the grant to host an artist-in-residence for the entire 2013 school year to conduct a series of visual art lessons with 500 students in its K–6 classes.

Lake Ridge Elementary, Magna, UT
Lake Ridge Elementary was able to fund costumes and scenery for The Avalanche, an opera created entirely by fourth grade students. The opera took the class nearly the whole school year to organize from writing the story and music to painting all 320 square feet of scenery. Barbara Knowlden, fourth grade teacher shared, “With the money from KRIS Wine, I was able to purchase the necessary supplies. It really helped my students’ self-esteem as they realized what they accomplished and how wonderful they looked in the costumes!” 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.