How #my5days at Hallmark is Renewing, Inspiring, and Giving Back

“It was such joy to walk in with a certain set of expectations and walk away accomplishing far more than I even imagined.” This reaction from a designer at Hallmark Cards, Inc. underlines the spirit of a recent initiative that supports the creative culture at the company that has taken a new turn in 2018. Just two years ago, Hallmark created a program that would lead to new ways of thinking, personal inspiration, and growth for more than 800 members of its creative community. Now, it has grown to benefit nonprofit organizations in its local Kansas City community. Hallmark’s #my5days program offers five work days per year for creative employees to renew, explore, learn, and think differently about the world and work around them. 

For Youth, By Youth: Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Change; or How a Youth-led Arts Conference was Born

Over a year ago, the seeds were planted for what would become a vibrant flowering tree called Arts Amplifying Youth or AAY! for short. The leadership team spearheading Art=Opportunity, a research based arts education movement based out of Centre Artes at Cal State University San Marcos, came up with the idea to hold an arts-based youth summit for youth in San Diego. Their brilliant Executive Director Merryl Goldberg imagined a safe space where youth could express their art around important issues, which is an essential mission of Art=Opportunity. On a warm morning last October, a group of a dozen artistic teenagers came together in a small office in Little Italy with the seemingly easy-to-answer question, “How can we bring art to youth in a meaningful way?” They soon discovered that this question was not as easily answered—so they set out on their journey of event planning! 

A Utah Business “Not Throwin’ Away its Shot” to Help Rural Students Experience “Hamilton”

When Zions Bank was approached by the Utah Division of Arts and Museums with a request to support the Hamilton Education Program, executives knew high school students from Title I schools and rural towns spanning the state needed to be in “The Room Where It Happens.” The $16 billion-in-assets financial institution based in Salt Lake City has a significant presence and market share in rural communities; because of its statewide network of branches, it is important to the bank to help promote rural populations’ access to the artistic treasures concentrated in Salt Lake City. Through the Hamilton Education Program, nicknamed “EduHam,” producers made tickets available at a discount, which was subsidized by Zions Bank and the State of Utah through a bi-partisan appropriation. After weeks of studying a special integrated curriculum about Alexander Hamilton, the May 4, 2018 performance provided more than 2,300 students an opportunity to experience the musical in person. 

Building Community and Making Connections in Denver

The 2018 Americans for the Arts Annual Convention was as stimulating as ever! Over the years I have attended several Americans for the Arts conferences and I am always impressed by the number and variety of attendees who gather to discuss the impact of the arts in our communities. More than 1,000 people traveled to the beautiful city of Denver to discuss the trends of equity and inclusion across all sectors, how the arts unite cities, advocacy and grantmaking, as well as the role of the arts in aging and coping with trauma. The list of topics covered seems almost endless! As an arts educator, I was interested in learning about the growing field of Creative Youth Development (CYD). The highpoint for me was hearing from the young people who attended the preconference sessions.

The Hustle—Economic Sustainability in the Arts Education Field (Part 2)

As we uncovered in our previous post, creating a sustainable living from a long-term arts education career can be difficult whether you’re a teaching artist, public school art teacher, or arts education administrator. However, we believe there is great work and inspiring advocacy being done around pay equity in our field that we want to share to inspire the new generation of arts education leaders to continue to invest in the future of our field. 

Leaders in the field must stop accepting the culture of scarcity that has become our norm in the arts and education field. It is our job to stand up and ask for compensation for our time and expertise, finding value in our work and articulating it. Otherwise, when the young people we work with say they want to go into a career in the arts, we won’t have any other response than, “What’s your back-up?”

YoungArts Exhibition at the U.S. Department of Education Promotes Tolerance

Monday, June 4, 2018

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The U.S. Department of Education’s Student Art Exhibit Program, which has been in operation since 2004, regularly features a rotating collection of visual art created by both American and international students. On May 4, the program debuted an exhibit called “Total Tolerance.” The exhibit includes various photos, paintings, and poetry by winners of the 2018 YoungArts’ National Arts Competition, a yearly competition for young artists ages 15-18.

The Hustle—Economic Sustainability in the Arts Education Field (Part 1)

A short play:

Me: I want to go into the arts.
Teachers/Friends/Family: What’s your back-up?

All three of us have had this conversation in some form at various points in our lives. We did it anyways. Pay equity for race and gender have been at the forefront of many national conversations, which has led many in arts education to question our own pay structures. In this two-part blog, we explore three different points of view on how pay equity issues affect arts education professionals, whether they are teaching artists, public school arts teachers, or arts education administrators.

Arts Better the Lives of Everyone

At the Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs, we believe that the arts better the lives of everyone. This is something other countries have figured out, but we still need to learn it here. We still need to learn to welcome all—including people with disabilities—into spaces where performances and exhibits take place. We still need to learn to broaden our understanding of who can be an artist, and what an artist looks like. We still need to learn how to open up our classrooms to all students and break down barriers to arts learning so that arts education, artistic expression, and artistic engagement can be a powerful, meaningful, and significant part of everyone’s life.

Schools Must Be Safe Places for Students to Learn and Pursue Their Passions

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A nation plagued by school shootings watched the horror play out yet again in Southeast Texas when eight Santa Fe High School students and two teachers were killed and 10 others were wounded recently in the worst school shooting since the February assault on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Many of these victims were in an arts classroom making art at the time. Schools must be safe places for students to learn and pursue their passions in the arts and beyond. 

Americans for the Arts to Present Six Awards for Arts Leadership

Honorees to Be Recognized June 16 at Americans for the Arts’ Convention in Denver, CO

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

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Americans for the Arts announced today the recipients of the 2018 Americans for the Arts Leadership Awards. Given annually, these awards recognize the achievements of individuals and organizations committed to enriching their communities through the arts.

Here Comes Summer … Time to Get to Work!

It’s the final countdown! Students stroll down the hallways chatting about summer vacation plans, teachers eyeball stacks of books in the corner and make plans for clean-up and storage, and school leaders are wrapping up teacher evaluation cycles and planning end-of-the-year assemblies. Everyone is racing to the finish line! Now would be a terrible time for arts organizations to reach out to schools to talk about future partnerships, right? WRONG! As they wind down, we should be winding up. As you begin to brainstorm ways to connect with your local schools, here’s a quick list of tips to make the most out of their summer vacation.

Oklahoma Arts Advocates In Solidarity with Teacher Walkout

Monday, May 14, 2018

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Partnering with Oklahoma A+ Schools, Oklahoma Art Education Association, and the Oklahoma Alliance for Arts Education, hundreds of arts and arts education advocates came to promote arts education funding on April 11 within the bigger picture of the Oklahoma teacher walkout.

Leaning In With the Arts

Whatever your role is in arts education, the challenges of the world and today’s issues are seeping into our work (and even our play), much more than they did even a year ago or five years ago. Each day educators interact with young people facing challenges like food insecurity, immigration, and deportation issues, social or emotional health, fear of school shootings, sexual and gender orientation, just to name a few. In addition, teachers are challenged with standards, assessments, student behaviors, media literacy, school climate, student engagement, and much more. Many of these topics are intertwined. The issues weigh on our minds. I am hopeful that the arts will help us not only get through this difficult period but make us stronger!

Mothers and Arts make a Symphony of Family Life

How lucky I was to grow up in San Antonio, Texas, surrounded by its wonderful mixed culture, Texan and Mexican. My dear mother, Mary Dorothy, a war widow in 1942, brought my brother George and me back to her home and made certain that the arts and culture of our Texas and Mexican heritage was an integral part of our lives, education, and development. It didn’t hurt that she was part of the Maverick clan, one of the founding families of the city and also one of the most liberal. Their love of the arts also was shared with their love of politics, and I learned at an early age how to blend the two into resources for museums, educational arts projects, theaters, and, of course, our great annual Fiesta San Jacinto. Mother sparked my curiosity, drove me everywhere, dear thing, and even put up with one period where I added the viola to my repertoire. My poor mother!

New Federal Arts Education Grant Competition Announced

Thursday, May 3, 2018

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The U.S. Department of Education announced a new round of grants for the newly-named “Assistance for Arts Education Development & Dissemination” grant program. In total, about $14 million will be awarded to 20-25 grantees, each receiving about $575,000 per year during their 4 year project cycle. 

Great Art Knows No Boundaries

It is exciting and remarkable news that the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in music went to rapper Kendrick Lamar for his album DAMN. Lamar is the first composer outside of the classical or jazz arenas to be awarded a Pulitzer. And one of the critical subtexts of his win is the message that it sends about how musical boundaries are uncontained—they are breaking down. For too long we have seen art and music as a function of silos—pop here, classical over there, jazz somewhere else, you get the idea. It doesn’t work anymore. It is artificial. In fact, I would argue that the worst thing that ever happened to classical music was when it became walled off from the broader culture early in the 20th century.

Arts Integrated AND Bilingual

So many teachers and other artists have asked, “Why bilingual?”, because it was how I wanted to share Latino culture through language, my personal mission as an Artistic Director. Then the old lightbulb exploded and for two years of graduate school I started (and continue) to work on my case study. Working in two counties and several schools, I have set out to quantitatively measure the percentage of higher comprehensive learning from students who have participated in one of our bilingual arts-integrated residencies. It has been exciting research for a data nerd because it is a unique study. I had to piecemeal it together: studies in arts integration, studies in bilingual integration, and all the other forms of both in between—for example, arts-learning does not necessarily imply arts-integrated.

Creating Space for Collaboration: The Heartbeat of the Arts

One of the most enriching aspects of working in the arts is being a part of collaborative partnerships. I see the quality of the work we do as arts administrators as a direct reflection of the relationships and partnerships we’ve developed with other artists, organizations, and practitioners. Student work takes on a life of its own when students create work together. When a violinist, a poet, and a dancer collaborate on a project, or a community partner works with students to reinvent and add meaning to a cultural performance, the audience can feel and see the difference on stage from the depth of that relationship and experience. I was reminded a few weeks ago of the importance of encouraging, expecting, and creating the opportunity for collaboration in the schools and arts institutions we lead.

A Conversation with Kansas Pioneer Laura Ramberg

Laura Ramberg is a ceramicist, sculptor, and dancer who has been working as an artist in the Lawrence, Kansas community for the past 40 years. A true innovator and creative pioneer, she has taught art classes three times a week at the Douglas County Juvenile Detention Center in Lawrence for two decades. Working with literally hundreds of students over 20 years, she has witnessed fluctuations in policy, changes in facilities, and the digital revolution in youth culture. She has experienced firsthand how art can help people in crisis in the moment, but also how it can change their lives. Arts Education Council member Margaret Weisbrod Morris sat down with Laura to hear about her experiences working with incarcerated youth.

Tennessee Governor and Country Music Association Announce New $1 Million Music and Arts Education Initiative

Thursday, April 12, 2018

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Called "Tennessee: State of the Arts," the program is an unprecedented public-private partnership to provide school districts statewide the opportunity to apply for funding to improve or develop their music education programs for the 2018-19 school year. 

Americans for the Arts Celebrates the Life of Maestro José Antonio Abreu

Friday, April 6, 2018

Abreu, the founder of El Sistema, was a professional musician, economist, and one-time cabinet minister, but his life’s mission was to democratize and universalize music education.

Creative Youth Development National Partnership Releases National Action Blueprint

Friday, April 6, 2018

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The Blueprint builds on the 2014 Collective Action for Youth Agenda by prioritizing three strategic areas—Visibility and Impact, Funding, and Field-Building—and identifying specific actions for cross-sector advancement of the field. 

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