Arts education as a community for action?
Maybe I have become a selfish old frump, but I would like to see some real change in the status quo in my lifetime. I have been fortunate enough to see and participate in (most of us have) great experiments that show possibilities--thank heavens for those examples and models of what could be. Maybe that's the best we are going to get, more and more examples, some being at the classroom level, some at the school level, and some even at the district or community/city level. I have also heard ten plausible strategies for making that serious dent in the national status quo--a number of those strategies have appeared in our blog. Where I lose my innate optimism is in the sense that we as a field will never be able to gather our force in any kind of coordinated focus to work as a community. We are good at identifying twenty ways in which the arts and arts education are important; we are good at "should-ing" on people and institutions; but we are hopeless at agreeing upon one or three ways to create change. Perhaps it is counter to our essential nature to do so, but I don't see how we can ever escape the gravitational pull of cultural norms unless we do.
I was struck by the lesson of the National Performing Arts Conference in Denver this summer, the largest gathering of arts leaders ever. The design of the conference, guided by the group America Speaks, culminated in voting as a performing arts community on priorities for common actions that would positively impact the climate for all the arts. There was clear agreement about the three top arenas for common action: advocacy, arts education, and diversity. Not much agreement on the specifics--the conference leaders intend to keep the community-building process underway to bring consensus toward common action, but the process is incredibly slow. And it took huge amounts of money, and years of preparation, just to begin. Many at the conference had never seriously considered they were part of a functional community of the arts before. One idea I have heard resonate in this blog is to focus locally. Dallas certainly provides one example of how to do that, and that arts education can lead a change in the cultural community, not follow it--to connect with the original question of this blog. How do we get enough local agreement to break out of gravitational norms at the district and community/city level? And what other strategies might there be for getting effective agreement within the field as a whole?
Sam Hope, executive director, The National Office for Arts Accreditation (NOAA);
Jack Lew, Global University Relations Manager for Art Talent at EA;
Laura Zakaras, RAND;
James Cuno, Director, Art Institute of Chicago;
Richard Kessler, Executive Director, Center for Arts Education;
Eric Booth, Actor;
Bau Graves, Executive director, Old Town School of Folk Music;
Kiff Gallagher, Founder & CEO of the Music National Service Initiative and MusicianCorps
Bennett Reimer, Founder of the Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience, author of A Philosophy of Music Education;
Edward Pauly, the director of research and evaluation at The Wallace Foundation;
Moy Eng, Program Director of the Performing Arts Program at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation;
John Rockwell, critic;
Susan Sclafani, Managing Director, Chartwell Education Group;
Jane Remer, Author, Educator, Researcher
Michael Hinojosa, General Superintendent, Dallas Independent School District
Peter Sellars, director
Contact us Click here to send us an email... more
Peter Sellars on Creativity & the Voice more