Monthly Archives: April 2013

Doubling down on what works

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Last month, National Council on the Arts met and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) revealed their new four-point plan for arts education, under the leadership of new Director of Education Ayanna Hudson.

  1. Double down on what works – leverage investment in programs that have proven to be effective.
  2. Drive National Data & Research Agenda – collect standardized data about resources, frequency, content, and quality in arts education across all 50 states.
  3. Collaborate for Collective Impact – partner with organizations to develop a coordinated national strategy for arts education
  4. Lead the Field – provide the field with arts education resources, information, publications, and professional development.

This framework shows promises for success in driving the arts education agenda.  We look forward to the day when the NEA’s vision of “every student is engaged and empowered through an excellent arts education” is realized. 

Internet offering innovations in arts education

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The story began when Michael Goins found out that the school his son went to no longer provided arts program due to budget cuts. So, taking advantage of his kids art business, he started owlhill.org where he features artists online with videos featuring puppet teachers.

In this economy, arts programs are often cut due to budget constraints.  It is now up to us, parents, community members, artists, to ensure that our children remain engaged in arts.  

STEAM didn’t get pass politics

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A bill was recently proposed in North Dakota. It called for a state commitment of $125,000 between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2015.  In the scheme of things, that’s not really that much money, and the State had it.  But this little bit of money would have allowed  the North Dakota Council on the Arts to develop a pilot grant.  The pilot program would have provided training for teachers, giving them the tools needed to implement an arts program.

Unfortunately the bill didn’t pass…

North Dakota is not the only state that could take another look at putting arts in schools.  Schools in the tri-state area have had their budgets cut, which led to cuts to arts programs.  Arts to Grow, and a coalition of arts organization, are engaging in a conversation with mayoral candidates in NYC to ensure that our politicians understand the importance of arts education and have a plan to bring it to our children.  Learn more about arts advocacy here

Bring a little drama to reading

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We’re excited to see new programs being instituted in a New Jersey school: Morris district’s elementary schools, located in Morristown and Morris Township.

Last year, an theater artist-in-residence approach was tried as a pilot program, and this year it became an official part of the district’s language arts curriculum for the third grade. The program will run for grades 3 and 4 next year and grades 3, 4 and 5 the following year.

The program is provided by Mayo Performing Arts Center.  The partnership had been developing for years, but has been sporadic in part due to funding.  With additional funding and grants, what was just a goal is now a reality.  

The school has seen tremendous success with this collaboration.  Programs like this help improves reading and comprehension skills.  The students are engaged in the process, because they are just having fun with the play.  The program is even seen as a way to help improve the students’ scores on the NJ ASK standardized tests.  “Programs like this are what make kids want to come to school,” said Noone, the principal.  But the kids don’t have to know that.  They just know that they’re having fun at school.  

Arts to Grow has a similar mission.  But we cannot fully realize our goal  without your help.  Please consider supporting our kids. 

Plan afoot to bring arts education to every student in Chicago

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We’re overjoyed for our Chicagoans!  Plans are in place to provide equal access to visual arts, drama, dance and music by 2015-2016.  Additional policy goals include 120 minutes of arts education per week in elementary schools and expansion of arts education graduation credits to include drama and dance. The plan also calls on schools to have one arts teacher for every 350 students.  The arts will be added to the Chicago Public School scorecards in the fall to establish baseline and identify high priority schools.  

This is exciting development!  We are not talking about one school or two schools.  We are talking about elevating the role of arts in education on a city-wide scale.  This is the type of reform that would truly prepare our children for success!  Way to go, Windy City!  

You’re Cordially Invited…

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Dear Readers, 

You’re cordially invited to two exciting Arts to Grow events!  The first one is a mixer this Friday where you can meet Arts to Grow volunteers and teaching artists.  The second one is a benefit concert this Monday featuring David Strathairn and Jennifer Ehle.  A portion of the proceed from both events benefit Arts to Grow.  So, see you there!

  • What? Getting to know Arts to Grow
  • When? Friday, Apr 12, 2013 6:30pm
  • Where? Exchange Bar and Grill 256 3rd Avenue
  • How?  Get tickets here
  • What? Sung and Spoken benefit Conert
  • When? Monday, Apr 15, 2013 at 8:00 PM
  • Where? Christ & St. Stephen’s Church, 120 W 69th St
  • How? Get tickets here!

Offering kids a stage for them to shine

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New York City is a cultural center of the world.  Sadly, our children don’t always have access to any arts during their school years.  Understanding the importance of an arts education, many professional theaters in New York City have community outreach programs to fill the gaps in our children’s education.

For example, Roundabout theater has invested $1M in educational programming each year.  When asked why they do this, Roundabout’s Director of Education, Greg McCaslin gave a compelling answer.  100% of the high school seniors that participate in the program graduate high school – a number much higher than New York City’s overall rate (65.5% in 2011).

The theater in the last decade has expanded its focus to engaging children not only in school, but also out of school and during summertime.  Roundabout provides a variety of programs for the children ranging from being in front of the audience to behind the scene.  In offering varieties, Roundabout offers opportunities for each children tailored to their strengths and weaknesses.  And this opens the children’s eyes to a whole new world of possibilities.  It shows the children that there is a lot more than what you see onstage.  

“As they become agents in their own lives,” Mr. McCaslin explained, “there’s a whole self-esteem thing that happens.” 

We at Arts to Grow understand this sentiment exactly.  We see growth in self-esteem and confidence in the kids participating in our theater program.  In fact, they are busy rehearsing the Wiz right now.  We can’t wait to see the final production!