Vans Custom Culture 2016: That’s a Wrap!

This week, we've been featuring stories from high schools around the country that were awarded arts education grants funded through the Custom Culture partnership between Americans for the Arts and Vans. On June 8, the winner of the annual Vans Custom Culture shoe design contest was announced at a special event in Los Angeles. It was an incredible celebration of a program that proves that when businesses partner with the arts, everyone wins.

A Week of School Year Successes

I’m always amazed at what a teacher can do with a small grant. This year, as I managed another round of grants through our partnership with Vans, I was again filled with appreciation for how much impact $2,000 can have for an arts program at a school. For the next week, Americans for the Arts will be sharing success stories from schools that were awarded Custom Culture grants.

My life’s not busy, it’s full. Except today.

I first met Jessica Wilt 5 years ago. She and I were both new to Americans for the Arts...I was a new staff member and liaison to the arts education advisory council, and Jessica was a newly minted council member.

Jessica immediately took a leadership role within the council, helping us craft a strategic plan for arts education at Americans for the Arts. Her leadership in arts education in New York City gave her plenty of expertise in arts education planning. Jessica was a tap dancer and teaching artist. She worked in the education departments at Dance Theater of Harlem and Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana. She served on the Leadership Committee of the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable and was a school board member for VOICE charter school.

VANS Inspires the Next Generation of Artists, Designers, and Innovators

Editor’s Note: Americans for the Arts partners with VANS on their Custom Culture program. Last week in New York City was the final event of the competition, where the winning shoe design was picked. Below are remarks that our Arts Education Program Manager made during the event:

My name is Kristen, and my organization, Americans for the Arts, partners with Vans to ensure that schools all over the country have amazing arts programs, just like yours.

Custom Culture was developed to encourage high school students to embrace their creativity and inspire a new generation of youth culture.

Inspiration Needs to be the Starting Line for Professional Development

Dear Educators,

How many times have you been in this situation?

A classroom full of students sits arms crossed, slouched, or fiddling with their phones. Their thoughts are elsewhere. You can tell because of their daydreaming absent gazes.

Is this a typical High School classroom? Perhaps, but today I’m talking about one of the many professional development courses I’ve attended over the years. You see, these students are also educators. And ideally they are being taught new ways to teach.

Introducing…"Encourage Creativity: Teach the Arts"

Americans for the Arts (AFTA) believes that the arts are an essential part of preparing students for success in school, work, and life. We provide practical tools, advocacy resources, and research-based publications, such as our Field Guide and Navigator e-book series to help convince leaders of this important role the arts play in student success.

Because we work in the arts, one of most powerful forms of advocacy is using our art forms to communicate. Having artistic and high-quality materials, such as the Field Guide and Navigator e-books, is essential to how valuable these advocacy tools are.

Ask Yo-Yo Ma About Arts Education

Yo-Yo Ma (Photo by Todd Rosenberg) Yo-Yo Ma (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

Have you ever chatted with someone about the importance of the arts in our schools? Would you like the chance to discuss it with Yo-Yo Ma?

Welcome to Youth Arts Month

Kristen Engebretsen Kristen Engebretsen

March 1 kicks off a month-long celebration of youth participation and learning in the arts. Many states, cities, and organizations have their own way of celebrating.

Here is just a random sampling of ideas I’ve seen from around the web:

Presenting Our Vans Custom Culture Grant Winning Schools

Learning in the arts enables every individual to develop the critical thinking, collaborative, and creative skills necessary to succeed in today’s ever-changing world.

Common Core and Arts Education: The End of Our Blog Salon

As we wrap up our Blog Salon for this week, I wanted to provide three types of summaries:

First, here are two resources where you can find out more information about the Common Core:

  1. A list of Common Core resources from our website
  2. A list of Common Core resources on the Arts Education Partnership website

Second, here is a Wordle of the most commonly used in our Blog Salon posts:

Join Our Common Core Twitter Chat

Kristen Engebretsen

Based on a survey Americans for the Arts completed last year, 46% of respondents said that they would be interested in arts education programming that related to broader education reform issues, such Common Core State Standards, No Child Left Behind, the achievement gap, student engagement, and state or federal policy.

Welcome to the Blog Salon: Common Core 101

Kristen Engebretsen

Back in February, during the winter meeting for the arts education council, we discussed the results of a survey we had completed asking members of Americans for the Arts what type of programming they were interested in for arts education.

It Takes a Village in Arts Education (Part 1)

Since I started my tenure at Americans for the Arts, we’ve been discussing variations on the theme of: “It takes a village to educate a child.”

During the 2011 Annual Convention, we had two arts education leaders (Ayanna Hudson and Margie Reese) discuss how this works in their respective communities. At the time, we were calling this phenomenon “coordinated delivery.”

So...What’s Your Equation for Quality?

Kristen Engebretsen

I hope that everyone has enjoyed reading the various thoughts and stories from leaders across the country during our bi-annual Blog Salon (come back in September for our second one).

John Legend & Partners Ask Students: What's Going On...NOW?

Kristen Engebretsen

“In 1971, Marvin Gaye captured and commented on the spiritual and cultural chaos of the nation with his album, What’s Going On. It's been 40 years. What's changed? What's Going On...Now? You Tell Us.”

Former President Clinton Supports Arkansas Arts Education Program

Over the weekend, former President Bill Clinton made headlines in his home state of Arkansas discussing education. His message was one that many of us already know: the dropout rate is increasing and students are leaving school unprepared for 21st century jobs.

However, the uniqueness of the President’s message was in his proposed solution—the arts.

As the Blog Salon Comes to a Close...

Kristen Engebretsen

I hope that everyone has enjoyed reading the thoughts from leaders both in and outside our field during this blog salon in honor of National Arts in Education Week.


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