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Arts Education 365: Everyday Advocacy

September 27th, 2010 by timduroche

(The first in a four-part stream on advocacy and arts education resources)

September can be such a blur—summer ending, school starting—some of us barely had a chance to catch our breath before National Arts in Education Week (Sept. 12–18) was over.

The Right Brain Initiative was very busy during Arts in Education Week with exhibitions, public meetings, and gathering stories and manifestos from creative minds of all ages. ‘Twas a fantastic show of energy, all in all.  For a glimpse of some of the further meditations, prescriptions, and manifestos from around the country you might check out Americans for the Arts’ Arts Education blog.

Arts in Education Week got its official stamp of approval in July 2010 when the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Congressional Resolution 275: Arts education, comprising a rich array of disciplines including dance, music, theatre, media arts, literature, design, and visual arts, is a core academic subject and an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students.

The resolution had 101 cosponsors and was the first ever Congressional throw-down in the name of arts education. The resolution came at a key time when Congress is considering steps to overhaul federal education policy through the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), aka NCLB.

Most importantly this helped to underscore that since our children are not one-dimensional, neither should their education be—we simply have to nurture the whole child. As Anna Belle Crocker, the curator of the Portland Art Museum in its early years, once wrote the connection between education, the arts and the whole child, “goes deeper than we think.” She called for, “a balanced design for education; a plant that while spreading technical knowledge and widening the use of the tools of reason, does not choke nor lead astray the spring of creative intuition but keeps it clear.”

While a week of awareness was a grand idea and cause for celebration, it was also a good reminder that we have an awful lot of work to do and that advocacy for arts in education is something that needs to happen every day.

Mark Your Calendar: For those of you charged up by the energy of wanting to know what to do next—save the date!  Arts in Education Week was a drill to prepare you for more in the trenches activity when Americans for the Arts launches Arts Education Month in March of 2011.  In the months leading up to that AftA will be offering guidance and advocacy-ammo for you, Citizen of the Arts, to be able to testify on behalf of arts education in your community, to your school board and elected officials.

Also on the immediate horizon: The Oregon Arts Commission’s Third Annual Oregon Arts Education Congress is coming up Monday, November 8, 2010. As part of the important work they’re doing, they’ve created an Arts Education Forum for sharing resources and information–a great first step toward 365/24-7 arts ed. advocacy

Tim DuRoche is Director of Programs at the World Affairs Council of Oregon, member of The Right Brain Initiative’s Governing Committee, and Chair of Right Brain’s Advocacy Committee.

   

timduroche