Show us the money

By Bau Graves
It's remarkable to me, as we enter the home stretch, how little money has been a topic of our discussion.  The many visions imagined here will remain just that for lack of a flood of cash, and does any of us think such sustenance is impending?  Perhaps the new Arts Corps will come with a big enough commitment to make it a real force.  I once calculated that the cost of creating an "Artist Laureate" position in every one of America's 18,000 incorporated towns at the prevailing median income level, would be just $606 million (2001 dollars).  That's a day and a half in Iraq.  Imagine -- we could all elect whatever artist we preferred; we'd find out once and for all if poetry or quilting could win out over speed-metal.  Real estate agents would pump up their sales based on the really great accordionist elected by the folks in Grundy Center.

We're in a dark time that is poised to have serious repercussions for many of the nonprofits that we count upon to deliver arts education programs.  But the demand for vibrant, relevant art experiences at all levels far outstrips the supply.  I am humbled by the fact that, in the midst of economic chaos, demand for our programs is stronger than ever.  Old Town School of Folk Music will register more than 19,000 students this year, and if anything, enrollment is building as the recession deepens.  In times of trouble, people value the experience of making music together.  I can't help but feeling optimistic knowing that a couple of our alumni -- Malia and Sasha Obama -- will be walking in the corridors of power.
December 5, 2008 2:10 PM | | Comments (2) |


Terrific blog, many interesting details. I recall four of days ago, I have viewed a similar blog. Does someone know how to track future posts?

We welcome your comments and participation in the Campaign.

The National Campaign to Hire Artists to Work in Schools

Hiring Artists to Work in Schools and Community for Economic Stimulus and Educational Advancement
December 4, 2008
"For students living in a rapidly changing world, the arts teach vital modes of seeing, imagining, inventing, and thinking. If our primary demand of students is that they recall established facts, the children we educate today will find themselves ill-equipped to deal with problems like global warming, terrorism and pandemics. Those who have learned the lessons of the arts, however – how to see new patterns, how to learn from mistakes, and how to envision solutions – are the only ones likely to come up with the novel answers needed most for the future.” Art for Our Sake by Profs. Ellen Winner and Lois Hetland, 2007
An alliance of arts leaders and policymakers in San Francisco convened this week to launch a National Campaign to promote the use of federal job stimulus funds to employ artists to work in public schools and community centers. The concept has been presented to the Obama-Biden Transition Team and to Speaker Nancy Pelosi for consideration under the new Administration's prodigious Jobs and Growth stimulus package.

As the President-Elect seeks a potent formula to give the economy a serious jolt in the current recession, artists of all stripes represent a cost-effective investment to bring their performing, visual, and technical talents to a variety of school, neighborhood, housing, health, and community development settings.

The National Campaign's proposal draws on the historical precedents of Roosevelt's WPA jobs program and the national CETA Arts Program of the Ford-Carter years. The CETA Arts program was launched in San Francisco in 1975 and then rapidly spread across the country with the encouragement of the US Department of Labor, the National Endowment for the Arts, and many state and local arts agencies.

Particular leverage can be achieved by placing artists in public schools where the President-Elect's priority for educational improvement can be advanced while putting more people to work. As such, hiring artists can be a critical infrastructural investment that also contributes to social reform. Art forms like music, theater, dance, mural painting and poetry have demonstrated their ability to inspire students to delight in learning, elevate test scores, and bring children of diverse economic and racial backgrounds onto collaborative common ground.

Community artists are invariably employed in America's large nonprofit independent sector, government's indispensable ally in providing critical services through childcare centers, soup kitchens, environmental and civil rights groups, hospitals, schools, cultural centers, and faith-based organizations.

A public service employment program for artists can reach into the major urban centers and rural areas in all 50 states, promote local cultural activities and craft industries, invigorate educational reform, and pass the wisdom and talents of an older generation of artists to a new one eager to learn and participate in the economic revival of their home communities. The CETA Arts Program demonstrated success in transitioning many of these artists into full-time private sector employment in the theater, fashion, graphic design, film, animation and entertainment industries.

Arts education also contributes to the economy as high school and college graduates find employment in arts and entertainment while it cultivates new and enthusiastic audiences through attendance at performances and exhibits. The creative intersection of arts and technology also enables students to harness the power of the internet and the new Web 2.0 modalities of blogs, video, wikis and the social networks to develop collaborative learning projects and hone professional marketable skills.

A recent study by the Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) found that "integrating art in the literacy curriculum not only affected student learning, but also improved classroom dynamics and student behavior." The CAPE model demonstrates how schools can improve significantly through arts integration, teacher professional development, and teacher/artist collaboration. Similar programs across the country have produced similar results using professional artists in the schools, community centers and a variety of social institutions.

In the coming weeks, the steering committee of the National Campaign will be engaging artists and arts advocates in all 50 states in the elaboration of this proposal and building a broad-based constituency to promote its adoption by the new Administration and Congress.

Brad Erickson, Executive Director, Theatre Bay Area and Board President, California Arts Advocates
Deborah Cullinan, Executive Director, Intersection for the Arts and Board Member, California Arts Advocates
Nancy Quinn, Founder, Quinn Associates, Arts Management Services
John Kreidler, former Executive Director, Cultural Initiatives Silicon Valley
Ann Wettrich, co-director Center for Art & Public Life, California College for the Arts
Rio Yaňez, South of Market Cultural Center staff
Judy Nemzoff, Director, Community Arts & Education, San Francisco Arts Commission

for more information, call or write to Michael Nolan, project consultant, at or 415-282-9043
Visit “National Campaign to Hire Artists to Work in Schools” on Facebook and watch our constituency grow.

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