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.

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.

Amiskwaciw Wâskâyhkan Ihtâwin :: Community Engagement: Genius Loci of Place

For an artist, the initial concept for a public art project can be an exciting experience followed by anxious moments of uncertainty. Thinking of a concept that speaks to the public, while reflecting the values of your own artistic expression, is a challenging task. Questions preoccupied me as I conceptualized and created Amiskwaciw Wâskâyhkan Ihtâwin, a three-dimensional gateway/mural located in downtown Edmonton, Alberta. My awareness of Edmonton’s historic role as a gathering place for Indigenous peoples provided an essential clue to uncovering the essence of this special park.

Expanding the Arts Ecosystem in Malawi

Malawi has no shortage of artists. What’s needed is a more robust arts ecosystem in which artists can grow and thrive. There is no question that the arts are critical to fostering human development, establishing identity through shared cultural heritage, bolstering democracy, and protecting human rights. It is high time that international donors and the Malawian government realized that one of the country’s greatest resources—arts and culture—remains largely untapped.

Aesthetics of Process in a City Master Plan in Western Sydney, Australia

The Future of Penrith/Penrith of the Future came out of the C3West initiative (community, commerce, contemporary art), and demonstrates how partnerships between artists, city councils, urban planners, architects, and businesses have resulted in positive social outcomes where communities reimagine urban life, establish relationships to place, and experience what art can be and do outside the museum. The C3West model challenges the orthodoxies of community art by bringing in civic and business partners, tapping into sources of money that would not normally be available to artists.

Americans for the Arts Releases Statement on Immigration and Refugee Ban

Friday, February 3, 2017

Americans for the Arts releases a statement in response to the executive order signed by President Trump that denies entrance into the U.S. by immigrant and non-immigrant visitors from seven Muslim-majority nations.

Arts Education Included in Superbowl Halftime Show

Thursday, February 4, 2016

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The Los Angeles Youth Orchestra will be included in the half-time show of this year’s Super Bowl.  Music Director, Gustavo Dudamel of the Los Angeles Philharmonic will conduct a group of students from this El Sistema inspired program.

The Arts Help Us Find Comfort, Peace, and Unity

2015 is almost over, and what a year of successes and changes we've had as a country. The unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level in more than seven years; the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide; a landmark climate change agreement was approved; the U.S. embassy reopened in Cuba after 54 years; and a week ago, the Every Student Succeeds Act passed--a tremendous win for arts education. The arts won a number of other legislative victories too, such as increased federal arts funding and arts-friendly legislation regarding both IRA tax rollovers and visa law along with key successes at the state and local levels.

Shake Shack serves up Public Art in Philadelphia (& around the world!)

Last year, the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and Shake Shack joined forces for Summer Rendezvous, a breezy, bright mural on the wall behind Shake Shack’s first Philadelphia location. Edwin Bragg, Vice President of Marketing & Communications at Shake Shack, took a few minutes to talk to me about the partnership.

CRS: What drives Shake Shack’s giving philosophy, both historically and currently?

EB: Shake Shack’s mission is to Stand for Something Good, which means taking care of each other and our communities. Giving back is an essential to connecting to every community that Shake Shack is in. We have a program called Shack Gives Back, a company-wide community program that recognizes Shake Shack employees for volunteering. We also donate with funds, meals at Shake Shack, and more.

Vancouver, Canada: Artists Explore Year of Reconciliation

We live in interesting times. In Canada, Aboriginal rights are becoming a primary part of the political landscape. We are embarking on a long journey to recognize injustice and develop new partnership and governance models. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was a five-year project established to witness the stories and address the harm done by Indian Residential Schools and to set the country on a path of healing. In the spirit of this project, the City of Vancouver established a Year of Reconciliation from June 2013 to June 2014, working in partnership with Reconciliation Canada. 

Seattle Mayor Appoints City's First Civic Poet

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

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Earlier this month, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced that the city’s first Civic Poet will be Claudia Castro Luna. The new Civic Poet position will serve as “an ambassador for Seattle’s rich literary landscape and represents the city’s diverse cultural community.” The Civic Poet program will be administered by the city’s Office of Arts & Culture.

Encouraging News

The email crossed the Atlantic on 9th June 2015. My iPhone chimed its arrival into a gloriously sunny North Yorkshire afternoon, and into a conversation with friends and colleagues in the lowering sun.

Dear Kit,

Congratulations! Your project Congregation was selected and recognized in the recent Americans for the Arts 2015 Public Art Network Year in Review. The project was selected by jurors Peggy Kendellen, Laurie Jo Reynolds, and Ernst C. Wong and will be publicly presented on Thursday, June 11th at the 2015 Public Art & Placemaking Preconference in Chicago…” etc, etc.

UK theater gives creative reins to 100 children

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

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British theater company Little Earthquake gave 100 primary school children the creative reins for a recent original production, granting them the opportunity to be centrally involved in the play’s development, creation, and promotion. The Young Producers project, in partnership with Black Country Touring, Arts Connect West Midlands, and Wolverhampton’s Arena Theatre, placed the children at the center of the creative process in commissioning and creating a brand-new piece of theater for family audiences.

Composer makes operatic debut following success with YouTube

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

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Composer Jimmy López will make his operatic debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago this winter, largely thanks to the decision to upload his vocal music onto YouTube. After an extensive quest for a composer to musically adapt Ann Patchett’s novel Bel Canto to the operatic stage, Lyric Opera came across Lopez’s samples on YouTube and immediately contacted him.

London Mayor Adds Dance Into Schools

Mayor Boris Johnson Works With Renowned Dancers To Incorporate Dance Into Curriculum

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

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The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, recently announced a major new initiative that will see thousands of London schoolchildren being given the chance to participate in and learn about dance. The initiative is backed by award-winning choreographer Wayne McGregor and leading dance organizations.

President and CEO Bob Lynch spoke about the future of the arts in the United States at this gathering of international arts leaders and scholars at the University of the Arts Zurich. He also joined discussions about the place of the arts in other countries and the different funding, policy, and strategic partnerships paths that others are exploring.

Symphony in Sculpture at the Pappajohn Sculpture Park

Monday, June 15, 2015

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On May 23rd and 24th 2015, the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra capped its season with the second iteration of Symphony in Sculpture—a musical tour of the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park—which featured six new movements by Emmy Award-winning composer Steve Heitzeg.

What’s Going on Internationally in Arts Education?

As we celebrated International Arts Education Week 2015 last week, I have a renewed interest in exploring what is happening around the world in the fields of arts and education; specifically where they come together.

The first International Arts education Week was held in 2012 at the UNESCO headquarters with representatives from all sectors involved including artists, educators, NGO’s and the like. To coordinate global efforts in celebration of the power and impact of arts education, the delegates at the UNESCO general conference approved a resolution designating a week to join together as a global community to celebrate on the 4th week of May annually. This guide book is a great starting place for your celebration.

UK Parliament Connects Art and History in Interactive Web App

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

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A new medium of creating art is being developed in the United Kingdom with the support of Parliament. “Democracy Street” is a crowdsourced web app accessible by mobile phone that encourages users to visit places that hold important historical significance to Parliament. Through a collection of maps, users will be able to learn about the street or site of significance, and share a story or a photo. Those involved hope the project will result in an exhibition of original artwork and maps by November 2015.

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