Tag Archives: Americans for the Arts

Arts in Education Week

During a recent episode of “Jeopardy,” the final question required knowledge of both children’s literature and opera. Think Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” meets Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado.” Only one contestant seemed to know much about either — and he walked away with the cash. I’m guessing there’s an art teacher he ought to be thanking back home.

It’s been heartening to see arts and culture play such a pivotal role in 9/11 anniversary ceremonies. Sunday’s event at the newly opened 9/11 Memorial in NYC featured Yo-Yo Ma, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Emi Ferguson, Paul Simon and James Taylor. Opening remarks by Michael Bloomberg quoted Shakespeare, and poetry was prevalent throughout.

The Pushcart Players perform one of five school shows offered by Mesa Arts Center this season

Too often our nation forgets all that has been forged by arts and culture, and fails to appreciate the role they can play in moving us forward. So I’m delighted that Congress passed a bill last year designating the second week of September “National Arts in Education Week.”

For those who love the arts, no explanation of their impact or importance is needed. Art is an instinct, in impulse. An adventure of imagination as necessary as air. For others, they seem a mere nicety at best — perhaps because the joys of art never touched their lives as children.

But those unmoved by art’s aesthetic power should recognize its more tangible benefits. Art creates jobs. Creates cities where people want to live. Creates schools full of innovators and imaginators. Maybe even the “creative class” touted by a presidential candidate in his stump speeches.

Ninety percent of Arizonans believe that arts education is either important or very important, according to results of a public opinion poll conducted by ASU in May 2009 — a poll cited in the background report for this year’s Arizona Town Hall, the first of 98 Arizona Town Halls to focus on Arizona arts and culture. www.aztownhall.org.

The Arizona Arts Education section of the report was authored by Mandy Buscas (then director of arts learning for the Arizona Commission on the Arts, now the arts education outreach coordinator for Mesa Arts Center) and Lynn Tuttle (director of arts education for the Arizona Department of Education).

MAC presents Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters for grades K-6

Their work considers results of the 2009 Arts Education Census. It also looks at federal, state and local educational policies — noting that state support for arts in education has suffered significant losses of late due to “efforts to close significant stage budget shortfalls.”

Their reporting on the arts census notes that “20% of schools offered no courses in any arts discipline” and that “79% of schools spend less than $1 per year per student for arts instruction.” This despite the fact that U.S. employers rank creativity/innovation among the top five skills growing in importance.

So what can be done to move Arizona forward? A report issued after the Arizona Town Hall on arts and culture says that “Arizona residents need to speak up, stand for what we support, and make that support known at the ballot box at all levels, from the legislature, to the superintendent of public instruction, and to local school boards.”

It sounds rather daunting if you’re not accustomed to advocating for issues with local and stage officials, but there are plenty of resources to help you get started — including Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts. www.azcitizensforthearts.org.

The report also urges the arts and culture community to partner with the business community to “lobby for improved arts education” — and calls on nonprofit organizations and arts professionals in our communities to “continue augmenting arts education in the schools.” Think artist residencies, school field trips and such.

There’s plenty we can do as parents. Volunteer to help with art projects in the classroom. Coordinate field trips to places like libraries, performing arts venues, museums and exhibit spaces. Donate art-related supplies to local schools. Urge schools to integrate arts learning into other subjects. Vote art at every opportunity.

MAC presents Native American Song & Dance for grades K-12

Folks who separate art from the other disciplines, orchestrating false dichotomies that pit science and math against music and theater should learn more about artists like Emi Ferguson, a distinguished student of both music and epidemiology. Or scientists like Oliver Sacks.

To learn more about arts and education in Arizona, sign up for the free arts learning newsletter from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. www.azarts.gov.

The latest issue features details on the Poetry Out Loud program, a student art competition, an opportunity to participate in the Kennedy Center Partners in Education program, Target field trip grants, teacher workshops and more.

As for the “Jeopardy” answer that won the big bucks, it was “Pooh-bah.”

— Lynn

Note: Additional arts in education resources include the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities (www.pcah.gov), Americans for the Arts (www.artsusa.org) and the Arts Education Partnership (www.aep-arts.org). Learn more about Mesa Arts Center arts education programs at www.mesaartscenter.com.

Coming up: Country music meets arts and culture, Art meets airport, Who let the cats out?, Shakespeare meets Sweeney Todd


Arts & economic recovery

Manufacturing. Technology. Agriculture. Service industries. All words we commonly hear from politicians and pundits discussing key segments of the economy.

Why is the arts and culture sector so rarely mentioned in talk of economic recovery? According to a report by the National Governors Association, arts and culture-related industries (also known as “creative industries”) provide the following direct economic benefits to states and communities:

  • They create jobs
  • They attract investments
  • They generate tax revenues
  • They stimulate local economies through tourism and consumer purchases

Americans for the Arts, a national arts advocacy organization, shares some pretty impressive statistics on their website:

  • Arts-related economic activity generates $29.6 billion in government revenue, of which $12.6 billion is federal revenue.
  • The total investment of the federal government in arts and culture is $1.5 billion.
  • The federal return on investment for arts and culture is more than 8 to 1.

Their “Jobs & The Arts” issue brief notes that nationally, 100,000 nonprofit arts organizations are members of the business community. These organizations and their audiences:

  • Generate $166.2 billion in economic activity every year
  • Support 5.7 million jobs
  • Return nearly $30 billion in government revenue every year

This issues brief also notes that “Every $1 billion in spending by these organizations–and their audiences–results in almost 70,000 full-time-equivalent jobs.”

If you’re voting today without considering candidate records on the arts, or the possible impact of various propositions on arts and culture, consider making the arts front and center as you approach future issues and elections.

Americans for the Arts also offers information on arts and economic prosperity, including the impact of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences in various cities throughout the country.

So far I’ve enjoyed reviewing the lovely charts for Chandler, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Tempe, Eastern Maricopa County and Pima County. It’s a welcome diversion from the endless rings of incoming robocalls.

Whatever the specific outcome of Tuesday’s elections, Americans for the Arts encourages members of Congress to take specific actions to support the creative industries.

These include providing tax credits for nonprofit businesses to spur hiring, helping to preserve and create jobs in the arts, extending unemployment and health care benefits for part-time employees, and more.

To learn how you can support the cause of Arizona arts and culture, visit the websites of Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts and the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

These organizations offer Arizona-specific information, tips for taking action (contacting legislators, writing letters to the editor, etc.) and much more.

Voting resources from Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts include information you may still find helpful today before heading to the polls — which you can easily access by clicking here.

— Lynn

Note: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act awarded a $322,900 grant to the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and four Arizona nonprofits received direct grants: Arizona Theatre Company ($50,000), Ballet Arizona ($50,000), Borderlands Theater Teatro Fronterizo, Inc. ($25,000) and Drawing Studio, Inc. ($25,000). Learn more at www.recovery.gov.

Coming up: New movie theater comes to the Valley, Exploring RACE at the Arizona Science Center, Heard Museum North Scottsdale adventures

Knaves, MTV & call for artists

Timing isn’t everything. But it’s pretty darn important.

So here’s a roundup of time-sensitive arts news — including calls from various local and national organizations for your participation.

First, something you wouldn’t normally expect from Mesa’s neck of the woods — a call for possible knaves to complement a cadre of wenches.

Seem the education and outreach folks for the Southwest Shakespeare Company in Mesa recently held auditions for their “Wenches & Knaves” program — which provides opportunities for high school students who are enthusiastic about Shakespeare (aren’t they all?).

But alas — the wenches outnumber the knaves so the search for eligible young men continues. Selected participants “will benefit from workshops with highly qualified classical actors, tickets to shows and sometimes even onstage experience,” according to Dawn Rochelle Tucker, director of education for the Southwest Shakespeare Company.

Wenches and Knaves members help SSC promote shows and sell souvenirs, represent SSC on the streets of the Valley in full Shakespearean costume and perform the Bard’s work geurilla style at festivals and other venues.

Students also work in areas of character development, text work, personal voice and improvisation. Interested boys in grades 11 and 12 can contact Sara Chambers with SSC at schambers@swshakespeare.org for audition and program information.

But make haste. The 2010/2011 season for the Southwest Shakespeare Company opens soon with “Blood Royal,” being performed at the Mesa Arts Center.

Second, news from a national organization called Americans for the Arts — which is holding a “Why Arts Matter” video contest. The winning video will be shown on the MTV screen in NYC’s Times Square, and the winner will be there to capture it on his or her new Flip UltraHD Camcorder.

Video entries can be uploaded to YouTube through Sept 24. A voting period takes place between Sept 24 and Oct 8 — with the winner will be announced on Oct 12 to kick off National Arts & Humanities Month.

Finally, a call for artists from the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts –which is seeking artists working in all media to exhibit at the 41st annual Scottsdale Arts Festival on March 11-13, 2011.

Participating artists will be selected by a jury of arts professionals who will also award prizes in several categories — including ceramic, furniture, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, textiles and woodworking.

The award-winning festival displays the work of some 200 artists from throughout North America among the gardens, fountains and walkways of the Scottsdale Civic Center.

The festival attracts “tens of thousands of Scottsdale-area residents and visitors,” who also can enjoy live music, entertainment, fine food and wine, and activities for children.

Works of art can be purchased at the event or via online auction, with proceeds benefiting arts and youth education programs of the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

There you have it. Now get out there and alert your favorite knaves, videographers and artists…


Graphics from www.cafepress.com — which offers a wide range of products perfect for gift giving

Note: If your organization is issuing a call for visual or performing artists, please add a brief comment below to share information about your opportunity with our readers

Coming up:  New and improved theater venues in the Valley, Sunday’s free “Grandparents Day: Passport to Japan” celebration at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa

Update: The Arizona Jewish Theatre Company holds auditions Thursday, Sept 16, for its “All Rights Reserved Teen Improv Troupe.” Auditions begin at 7pm at Congregation Beth Israel and youth ages 13-18 can call 602-264-0402 to schedule an appointment time.