What about the community?

By Bau Graves
Thus far, most of this discussion seems focused on K-12 classroom arts education, an arena fraught with extreme challenges.  But there is probably a lot more vitality and opportunity in arts practice taking place in community settings.  The Irvine Foundation's recent study of "Cultural Engagement in California's Inland Regions" (irvine.org/publications/publications-by-topic/arts), the most detailed study of arts participation that I have encountered, showed that personal participation levels in broadly defined arts activities are high, but that most of this cultural engagement does not take place in arts spaces or schools.  Particularly among African Americans and Hispanics in the study, the great majority of arts participation is of a heritage- or socially-based nature, and exists in homes, churches, dance halls, parks and other informal environments.

"Diversity" appears in a lot of our postings here, but if we are not prepared to address the actual sources of diverse cultural activity, can this commitment be taken seriously?  This is not a matter of high art vs the rest.  Here in the upper Midwest polka is huge, and a lot of Mexican Chicagoans listen to banda all day (at least they manage to support multiple commercial radio stations) -- but that does nothing to diminish the relevance or importance of Mozart.  We just need to expand our field of vision.  There's a whole forest out there.  Why are so many of our resources and this discussion limited to so few trees?
December 3, 2008 7:29 AM | | Comments (1) |


Bau, the answer probably lies in the fact that we are considering a specific Rand document and a "research" question that frames the debate in the public schools (k-12)and the proposition that if arts education continues to diminish in our schools, it will adversely affect our culture.
Clearly, we range far and wide in, around, over and under this focus, but that's my guess.

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This Conversation For decades, as teaching of the arts has been cut back in our public schools, alarms have been raised about the dire consequences for American culture. Artists and arts organizations stepped in to try to... more

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JANE REMER commented on What about the community?: Bau, the answer probably lies in the fact that we are considering a specifi...