Monthly Archives: March 2011

If We’re Not At the Table, We’re On the Menu: Will the Arts Survive This Time as Education in Our Schools?

Arts Journal’s Guest Blog, Jane Remer at the Face to Face Conference at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens: If We’re Not At the Table, We’re On the Menu: Will the Arts Survive This Time as Education in Our Schools?

We had several guiding questions that boiled down to what concrete actions we might take to secure a place for the arts in the general curriculum. I focus here on only one aspect of our discussion: the table.

Richard Kessler (The Center for Arts Education) stressed the importance of being at the table when and where the arts, teaching and learning are at stake. Hollis Headrick (former CAE director and current consultant) reinforced Kessler’s point with the witticism in this blog’s title — if we’re not out there making the irrefutable case for the arts for all the kids, we’ll be “eaten alive.” Kyle Haver (Associate Director of Leadership and Organizational Learning, NYC Dept. of Education) suggested we seize the opportunity to develop specific steps and a strategy to connect the arts as content and context to the ELA and other subject areas in the Common Core State Standards.  a few weeks ago, some of my colleagues and I engaged in a panel presentation and discussion with an attentive and thoughtful audience. We had several guiding questions that boiled down to what concrete actions we might take to secure a place for the arts in the general curriculum. I focus here on only one aspect of our discussion: the table. 

Jane Remer’s Cliff Notes: March 10, 2011 Read full article here:  


Arts to Grow Student exhibition at Elisa Contemporary Art Gallery

Friday, April 1st from 5-7:30pm, Elisa Contemporary Art Gallery is organizing a special reception to highlight student artwork created last year at Arts to Grow’s program at Riverdale Neighborhood House.

A portion of all gallery sales from April 1 -16 will be donated to support Arts to Grow‘s program at Riverdale Neighborhood House.

During fall 2010, Arts to Grow teaching artist, Miguel Cossio led a mixed-media visual arts class for tweens in grades 6-8. Students learned how to use a variety of mediums including tissue paper for collage, wire and clay for sculpture, and water colors and acrylics for painting.

Examples of these mixed media artwork will be on exhibit from April 1 – 16th.

You can also view the Gallery’s current exhibit Orange! through May 16. It is a part of the community celebration of an energetic and dynamic color. 

Please join us for this special reception on Friday, April 1 at 5 p.m. See Arts to Grow Facebook page or check out Elisa Contemporary Art Gallery web site for more information. 

NYC Department of Education Releases Fourth Annual Arts in School Report

New York City Schools Chancellor Cathleen P. Black and NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin announced on March 3rd the release of the fourth Annual Arts in Schools Report.

The report illustrates the current state of arts education in New York City public schools, presenting citywide data on student participation in arts programs during the school year. The Arts in Schools Report identifies areas where schools excel or need improvement based on the ArtsCount criteria, introduced in 2007 to bring greater accountability and transparency to arts education in New York City.  The 2009-10 Report demonstrates that arts education has remained a priority throughout city public schools, despite budgetary cuts to individual schools’ spending. 

Findings from the Annual Arts in Schools Report 2009-2010:

·   On average, individual school spending on arts education has remained consistent at approximately 2.9% of school budgets from FY07 to FY10.

·   The Chancellor’s Endorsed Arts Diploma went to 653 High School students in 2009 and 857 students in 2010, an increase of 31%.

·   Middle schools continued to make progress in providing a quality arts education.  From 2008-09 to 2009-10, the percentage of middle schools across the City offering at least two disciplines in arts instruction increased from 83% to 87%.

·   From 2006-07 to 2009-10, 96% of elementary schools offered at least two disciplines to all grades served (1st-5th), an increase from 85% of schools. 

Click here to view the 2009-2010 Annual Arts in Schools Report.

STAYING IN SCHOOL, Arts Education and New York City High School Graduation Rates

In New York City, the cultural capital of the world, public school students do not enjoy equal access to an arts education. In fact, in schools with the lowest graduation rates—where the arts could have the greatest impact—students have the least opportunity to participate in arts learning. 

THE CENTER FOR ARTS EDUCATION (CAE) is an organization committed to stimulating and sustaining quality arts education in the New York City public schools.  CAE is the first organization to publish research results looking at the relationship between school-based arts education and high school  graduation rates.The findings, based on data collected by the New York City Department of Education (DOE), strongly suggest that the arts play a key role in keeping students in high school and graduating on time.

Click here to read full report. 

Arts to Grow’s Cypress Hills LDC/ PS 7 Acting Class Final Performance

On March 16, 2011 Arts to Grow’s program at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation’s PS 7 After School program held a final presentation for friends and family. 

During our winter cycle, students became young actors while meeting once weekly since January learning a range of acting skills, working together as an ensemble and concentrating on mastering a short play they created as a class. Each class performed their own short play: Beach, The World Next Door, Movies and The Zoo Story.

Arts to Grow’s Teaching Artist, Gardiner Comfort lead four acting class for student’s in grades 2-4 beginning in October 2010. Kids started with the basics of acting like vocal production, energizing games, and the guidelines of being on the stage. In the second semester, students were guided through the process of creating an original play and learning techniques for performing on stage. Students learned not only how to act on the stage in a theater ensemble and how to write short plays.  The final presentation beamed with imagination, team work, hard work and pride in creating and performing an original work.  BRAVO!

Get Ready: National Arts Advocacy Day is April 4th & 5th!

According to the Americans for the Arts website, “The 24th annual Arts Advocacy Day is the only national event that brings together a broad cross section of America’s cultural and civic organizations, along with hundreds of grassroots advocates from across the country, to underscore the importance of developing strong public policies and appropriating increased public funding for the arts.”


Actor Alec Baldwin will speak at the event, as will other acclaimed leaders in the arts, while actor Kevin Spacey will deliver the annual Nancy Hanks lecture on Arts and Public Policy. 

Americans for the Arts writes that attendees will have the chance to:

  • Hear from congressional leaders and acclaimed artists at the Congressional Arts Kick Off on Capitol Hill.
  • Make the case for the arts and arts eduction to your members of Congress.
  • Be a part of more than 500 of your fellow advocates from across the country.

Click here to read more about the event, watch videos, or register to attend Arts Advocacy Day in Washington D.C.

“The Optimistic Orphan”, play rehearsal at I.S. 171

When you walk into an auditorium where an Arts to Grow class is taking place, you hear loud music, singing chorus, you see groups of kids with scripts in their hand practicing for their roles, and you feel like you are in the real theatre rehearsal.

Arts to Grow’s after school theatre class at Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation / I.S 171 is led by our Teaching Artist Patricia Runcie who is currently rehearsing The Optimistic Orphan for performances on April 7th and 8th  for friends and family.

I was lucky to have the chance to interview kids and experience how students in grades 5 to 8 practice their singing and acting skills with an original script.

Some of the children have been participating in our programs for more than 3 years, some are new this year but each one of them was enjoying their time and enthusiastically welcomed the chance to be happy to be interviewed.  My questions were based on the experiences and skills that enrich kids live through arts.  It was fascinating to hear what the kids experienced when they go on the stage for the first time, how they learn how to overcome their fears, how to leave everything that worries them behind and immerse themselves in their roles.

Do you feel that participation in this project has helped you to improve in other areas of your life (academic abilities, social skills, self confidence, etc.)?

“I am starting to write this amazing plays, all because of Patricia… Math I am pretending that I am teaching to somebody to do everything right I pretend that I am acting…”.

“When I am here I collaborate with others, I learn to understand and help them and then when I go home I collaborate with my Mum, Dad, brothers, I try to understand them and help them with stuff…”

A couple of the students have applied to acting schools and are impatiently waiting to be offered a spot.  Many of the students expressed to me how they have learned to be focused on their work and have fun at the same time.