An action agenda emerging?

By Eric Booth

I got a nicely distilled response from Richard Kessler this evening that I wanted to offer our blog. He bullet points the key priorities that he sees our field coalescing around. I will want to reflect on these to see if they comprise a net that capture the issues I hear most commonly argued to advance the cause of arts education, but they feel pretty resonant at first glance. Thank you, Richard. Do other bloggers feel these four are the key ones?

"I think there are some clear trends emerging from the field, some of it is still relatively nascent, some of it is much further along:
1. Policy work, including work in federal and state policies, as well
as local.
2. Advocacy, including grass roots organizing, including
coalition-building, and training of parents.
3. A focus on improving, defining, and understanding quality.
4. Expanded data gathering.
I think if you look at the work that Ford Foundation has been stressing with its grantees, you begin to see an interesting nucleus emerging that includes the above."

And let me second Kiff's note about the opportunity of artist national service as a real contribution to changing our persistent status quo. It is indeed being considered seriously. Imagine young artists (not just classical arts as I see it) supported (and well prepared as teaching artists) to work in communities across the country. Somewhere between the WPA and Affiliate Artists, for those with long memories. Perhaps we can change the image of what a successful career as a 21st century artist looks like. And begin to change a culture's view of what America represents--as the Peace Corps has done in other counties.

December 3, 2008 3:57 PM | | Comments (1) |


Eric, I love Richard's list but I think there is something really important missing that is also a part of the trends I see emerging from the field. I see multiple attempts in cities (Portland, Dallas, Philadelphia, Cleveland the list goes on and on) to innovate traditional arts education delivery systems so that they can provide coordinated, scalable, sustainable, relevant, high quality experiences for whole cities of children throughout their lifetime.

These attempts use policy, advocacy, and research as tools, along with coalition building, community organizing and collaboration, to create something different. These are initiatives that are not driven from an arts, arts ed, or even wholly from an education agenda, but from a broader civic agenda. These cities are working to create new delivery models for arts education that include traditional instruction through school systems, while incorporating the broader community system in which schools exist. In some cases, these initiatives are challenging traditional notions of who in our community could legitimately teach the arts, when and to what end.

Ok…I will stop with all that; you know how I can get. I guess the bullet I would add to Richard’s trend list is systemic interventions and scale.

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