No Child Left Without Arts on His Mind

The following strategies were presented and voted on during the final Town Hall meeting of the National Performing Arts Convention. Many strategies were put forward, and we hope they all find champions and serve the field. Those with the majority of votes will emerge in the national strategies and agendas of the host service organizations, and will be encouraged as local and organizational priorities throughout the country. If you have specific examples, ideas, or ''best practices'' that relate to these top strategies, please post them in the comments section of this entry.

The Challenge/Opportunity
The potential of arts education and lifelong learning in the arts is under realized.

What should we do about arts EDUCATION on a NATIONAL level?

Devise an advocacy campaign to promote the inclusion of performing arts in core curricula -

  • Enlist artists as full partners in all aspects of arts education through training and creating an AmeriCorps/WPA-type program - 22%
  • Lobby for education reform, including rescinding No Child Left Behind - 20%
  • Form partnerships with national education infrastructure (e.g. National Education Association, PTA, teachers unions) - 13%
  • Invite new constituencies to experience the performing arts and create opportunities for lifelong learning by providing more points of entry - 5%
  • Research successful models / best practices and disseminate via the web - 2%
  • Establish diverse cross-sector committee to create an enriched arts curriculum - 2%

What should we do about arts EDUCATION on a LOCAL level?

Mobilize and collaborate with K-12 and higher education institutions to strengthen arts education and arts participation as core curriculum -

  • Strengthen relationship with school boards and policy makers through lobbying, electing "arts friendly officials", involvement in local politics - 17%
  • Innovate financial models to fund the arts: link to tax base, develop dedicated sales tax, connect to corporate funds - 15%
  • Integrate arts teaching in educators' professional development and integrate teaching programs in artist organizations - 16%
  • Bring art into non-traditional spaces (e.g. parks, workplaces, social programs)to  create new educational opportunities -- "enter into the communities we serve" - 14%
  • Develop joint arts education programs across disciplines and within the community for fuller distribution and comprehensive programming - 8%
  • Establish and share assessments that create empirical data to demonstrate correlation between arts and educational impact - 7%

What should we do about arts EDUCATION on an ORGANIZATIONAL/INDIVIDUAL level?

Lead lifelong education programs that actively involve people in multigenerational groups. "Make the arts part of a lifelong wellness plan." - 23%

  • Directly engage teachers to integrate the arts into their teaching and create professional development programs to address their needs - 19%
  • Commit your entire organization to arts education in mission, budget,     programs, and collaborations - 13%
  • Create new partnerships to share responsibility for planning and delivering local arts education - 11%
  • Leverage new technology to create art, engage more people (especially young people), and support learning. - 10%
  • Run candidates for school boards and local government - 9%
  • Use comprehensive education models to engage the whole family in your mission and programs. - 8%
  • Join, be active, and take leadership roles in civic organizations - 7%

THIS IS NOT THE END OF THE DISCUSSION. What do you think? Do you see strategies that are missing from these lists? What has and has not worked for your organization in the past? Do we need more specific action plans to really change things?
Click here to share you ideas and experiences from NPAC and beyond.
June 18, 2008 11:21 AM | | Comments (2)


All the research proves that participation in any art form, will raise test scores. This information has not moved any politician to change the current lack of funding to art, nor my field as a public school music educator.

For a clear understanding of why this has occurred, read the book: Manufactured Crisis by Biddle, 1995.

As a 25-year vetern junior high band director from a midwestern urban public school district, that has been cut millions of dollars, the challenge to maintain the National Standards in Music Education.

For example. Each elementary school offers different music lesson opportunities. Most experience one 15-minute lesson a week with up to 8-10 students of mixed or unlike instruments, some a 30-minute lesson once a week, and at one elementary school, two 30-minute lessons per week. With this lack of continuity in the elementary programs, incoming students do not move into junior high at the same level of ability, yet are all scheduled for the same 7th grade band class.

So what has been done to repair this? In addition to designing a nine-month challenging "catch-up-immersion" curriculum, I earned a second master's degree: Arts Administration. I still teach daily, but also look at my public school band program from a professional managers point of view. I now negotiate and arrange band performances all over town, as I use the new contacts and networks from my intern positions.

Here are a few suggestions for those who want to consider doing the same.
1. Contact a local college music department. Negotiate (sectional) masterclasses at your school, or better yet, take your entire band to the college for a masterclass session. Include parents. Do this yearly, within 2 weeks prior to a concert.
2. Contact area performance venues: Live Theater. Negotiate a small jazz band, flute or brass ensemble, perform prior to a production in the foyer of the venue.
3. Contact local businesses or government centers; Negotiate a business partnership in which the students perform during a holiday season during the lunch period for employees, or in a park or garden area outside.
4. Brainstorm ideas with parents..keep them well informed and inlist their help. The tighter your relationship with the parent community (including calling regarding grades on a monthly basis), will keep the music program in the public schools.

Note; As the parents and students understand their performance abilities will represent their work in public, practicing increases and parents incourage it.

As a Department Chair of the Arts (Music, Dance, Drama, Visual Art) and an art teacher (K-12+) for over 25 years, I have encountered school systems that want to integrate the arts but don't know how. The Arts teachers at all levels have to be involved in this process of writing Integrated Curriculum at the local level and also be part of the professional development team to "educate" non-arts teachers how to "do" art, not just use art materials and call it an art project.

At the university and training levels, we need to develop knowledge and hands on arts experiences for our non-arts teachers with required college level classes for undergraduates and graduates as well.

The road goes two ways. Arts teachers are somewhat accustomed to integrated other world subjects into their programs. After all, what is art but life itself? There isn't a subject you can think of that doesn't contain art of some kind. Non-arts teachers might throw in some art fact in history or perhaps in a chemistry class (components of paint for instance), but the integration is so limited and biased that the art concept becomes relegated to the incidential and trivial.

For our art ed. teachers, we need to emphasize their importance in the education continuum, not only to themselves as a group, but to the administration.

Art is Life. This being so, we not only have a commitment to demonstrate this as teachers, but we also have a need to show the education genre in general how the arts affect learning outcomes. Many of our non-arts teachers have no idea how the artist's right brain works to solve a problem!

Educational research has shown that students who have taken arts classes have higher SAT's. With this fact in mind, is it not in our best interest to emphasize the arts in our core curriculum? The National Stardards for the Arts (the first subject area that was completed before math, science, language arts and social studies when this project was initiated by the government!) has the arts as a necessary component of education. Why have we not followed through more intensely on the state and local level?

As a facilitator and initiator of a pilot program in Integrated Curriculum many years ago, I see today there is minimal progress in this area. Why? The reasons are many, but the problem does not lie in the curriculum itself, however. At most, it is a nice concept and gets talked about in education circles when talking about the rest of educations' ills gets tiresome. Implementation is not forthcoming.

It is one thing to see the problem of the arts being less and less important in the education of our future. It is another to realize being a part of that problem. And lastly, it is that same highly civilized and educated populace who will have to find a solution to this problem.

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About this blog From April 1 through June 9, 2008, weekly entries were posted here by some of the performing arts community's top bloggers. This 10-week intensive series served as a unique forum for digital debate and brainstorming, and both the entries and comments were archived for use at the live NPAC sessions in June.  Participants:

Jaime Green - Surplus
Nico Muhly
Kristin Sloan - The Winger
Jason Grote
Jeffrey Kahane
Eva Yaa Asantewaa - InfiniteBody
Greg Sandow
Hilary Hahn
Tim Mangan, Paul Hodgins, Richard Chang - The Arts Blog
Andrew Taylor -
The Artful Manager

During the convention, June 10 through June 14, 2008, a
ttendees from across art forms and job functions reported on their conference experiences. Participants:

Amanda Ameer
- web manager, NPAC
Sarah Baird - media and public relations executive, Boosey & Hawkes
Joseph Clifford - outreach and education manager, Dartmouth College Hopkins Center for the Arts
Lawrence Edelson - producing artistic director, American Lyric Theater
James Egelhofer - artist manager, IMG Artists
Jaime Green - literary associate, MCC Theatre
James Holt - composer; membership and marketing associate, League of American Orchestras
Michelle Mierz - executive director, LA Contemporary Dance Company
Mark Pemberton - director, Association of British Orchestras
Mister MOJO - star, MOJO & The Bayou Gypsies
Sydney Skybetter - artistic director, Skybetter and Associates
Mark Valdez - national coordinator, The Network of Ensemble Theaters
Amy Vashaw - audience & program development director, Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State
Scott Walters - professor, University of North Carolina at Asheville
Zack Winokur - student, The Juilliard School
Megan Young - artistic services manager, OPERA America

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the independent contributors and participants, not the National Performing Arts Convention or the organizations they represent.

NPAC - the National Performing Arts Convention - took place in Denver, Colorado on June 10-14, 2008. "Taking Action Together," NPAC sought to lay the foundation for future cross-disciplinary collaborations, cooperative programs and effective advocacy. Formed by 30 distinct performing arts service organizations demonstrating a new maturity and uniting as one a sector, the convention was dedicated to enriching national life and strengthening performing arts communities across the country. 

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This page contains a single entry by NPAC published on June 18, 2008 11:21 AM.

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