Arts Education Advocacy in a Post-Pandemic World

Posted by Mr. Tooshar K. Swain, Sep 12, 2022

National Arts in Education Week is upon us, and it is a wonderful time to reflect on where arts education has been and where it can go with impassioned arts advocacy. K-12 arts students and educators have endured a rocky road through the pandemic, and their perseverance must continue as we head into a new normal of education in the United States. The arts improved the social and emotional well-being of students during the pandemic. In 2020, at the outset of the pandemic, 125 national groups including Americans for the Arts endorsed the Arts Education is Essential Statement affirming the need for all students to have access to equitable arts education opportunities in dance, media arts, music, and theater. The statement was prompted by concerns that cutbacks in staff, funding, and scheduling would put K-12 arts education subject areas at risk, particularly for the traditionally underrepresented, those with special needs, and students from low-income families. While schools throughout the country have resumed in-school learning and arts education programs are thriving in some communities, quality arts programs continue to be limited or not available at all in many schools. The renamed Arts ARE Education statement is a now full-fledged national arts education campaign recognizing that all pre-K through grade 12 students have the right to a high-quality school-based arts education in dance, media arts, music, theater, and visual arts. 

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Member Spotlight: Tamar Krames

Posted by Tamar Krames, Linda Lombardi, Jun 02, 2022

The Washington State Arts Commission, ArtsWA, nurtures and supports the role of the arts in the lives of all Washingtonians. As the Arts in Education (AIE) Program Manager at ArtsWA, Tamar Krames oversees a variety of programs and partnerships with a focus on equitable access to quality arts learning. Krames is a multimedia artist, National Board-Certified teacher, and arts administrator. Supporting innovative, community-based practices in schools has been at the core of her work for the past 20 years. Current projects include managing Arts in Education grants, providing support for teaching artists and PreK-12 arts teachers, and amplifying the creative practices of youth and educators. Krames holds a Master in Teaching degree from The Evergreen State College and a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. 

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Member Spotlight: Markeshia Ricks

Posted by Ms. Markeshia Ricks, Linda Lombardi, May 10, 2022

The Arts Council of Greater New Haven’s Youth Arts Journalism Initiative (YAJI) introduces New Haven and Hamden, Conn. high school students to grassroots journalism through The Arts Paper, the organization’s daily publication. Program Director Markeshia Ricks is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience in newsrooms. Ricks dabbles in voice acting, blogging, podcasting, and photography. Before joining the Arts Council, she wrote for the New Haven Independent, Air Force Times, the Montgomery Advertiser, the Anniston Star, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, and the Tuscaloosa News. “Teaching students how to practice journalism through the skills of interviewing and reporting is like offering them a permission slip to explore their world. While YAJI teaches these skills, what I’m really hoping students learn is that it’s OK to be curious about the world around them, to ask questions of everyone they meet but especially of those who want to lead them.”

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Sharing the Impact of Arts Education with President Biden

Posted by Coco Allred, Mar 31, 2022

On March 9, I learned that in 48 hours President Biden would be visiting Luis Muñoz Marín Elementary School in North Philadelphia. Our school was selected for the presidential visit because it received critical funding from the American Rescue Plan—funding that kept essential before- and after-school programming going, like the arts clubs that I co-lead. It is not uncommon at Marín for students to participate in two to three clubs each week. During this special visit, I would have the opportunity to share how the art and design clubs I run are making a difference in students’ return to school amidst the pandemic. Over the past two years, everyone across school communities has been asked to press on and adapt in uncertainty. It feels like we have a lot to make up for after so much time spent online, yet we’ve also grown a lot from this experience. This visit prompted us to take stock of how much we have done and how empathetic, engaged, and wise our students are, placing our experiences within a broader interconnected web. That day, I felt reinvigorated by my commitment to listen to my students, provide them opportunities to lead, and create clear connections between the work they are doing and the impact they can have on our school community, their families, neighborhood, city, and world at large. 

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Member Spotlight: Mehmet Dede

Posted by Mehmet Dede, Linda Lombardi, Mar 22, 2022

The Hartt School at the University of Hartford offers conservatory-based training in music, dance, and theater that moves beyond conservative traditions. Assistant Professor of Music and Performing Arts Management Mehmet Dede is an internationally recognized award-winning music curator and festival producer with 20 years of experience in the culture space. In addition to his work at The Hartt School, he is also the Programming Director of downtown New York City music venue Drom. “My two decades of work as curator and entrepreneur have taught me a powerful life lesson that I apply to my practice as an educator: To stay curious myself and to teach curiosity to my students. I love sharing what I know with others who are equally curious about music, the arts, culture, business, and how they all intersect. Whether college age students or lifelong learners like myself, I believe we have much to learn from each other.”

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10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2022

Posted by Mr. Randy Cohen, Mar 21, 2022

The arts are fundamental to our humanity. They ennoble and inspire us—fostering creativity, empathy, and beauty. The arts also strengthen our communities socially, educationally, and economically—benefits that persist even during a pandemic that has been devastating to the arts. The following 10 reasons show why an investment in artists, creative workers, and arts organizations is vital to the nation’s post-pandemic healing and recovery. The arts are a proven contributor in keeping us mentally healthy—reducing depression and anxiety and increasing life satisfaction. Just 30 minutes of arts activities daily can combat the ill effects of isolation and loneliness associated with COVID-19—and 78% of hospital CEOs say the purpose of their arts programs is to aid in the emotional and mental healing of patients Those data points nail it. The arts are all about stories—often personal, always meaningful. This advocacy season, find your stories and pair them with the research-based findings in “10 Reasons to Support the Arts.”

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