Tag Archives: Mandy Buscas

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

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Art news you can use

Jennifer Campbell piece from Artlink Heritage Square Gallery

If you’re a parent, you’re an arts educator. And a literacy specialist. And a P.E. coach. And a math tutor. And more.

So how can you stay abreast of arts news and opportunities that may impact your child’s arts experiences inside and outside of the classroom?

Check out the online newsletter from the arts learning department at the Arizona Commission on the Arts–which simply and succinctly shares news of interest to both parents and professional arts educators.

Art can get overlooked in the classroom for many reasons. Sometimes teachers don’t understand the intrinsic value of arts or its benefits to enhancing skill and understanding in other academic subjects.

Christine Mesiti work from Artlink Heritage Square Gallery

Sometimes teachers feel intimidated by the arts. Often they simply don’t have the resources of time or money to invest in arts-related activities.

A well-informed and genuinely interested parent can prove an invaluable support for teachers who have the will, but not the way, to foster student arts experiences. And the arts learning newsletter is a great way to stay informed.

Here’s just a brief sampling of the ideas and opportunities noted in the latest issue…

Tara Logsdon work from Artlink Heritage Square Gallery

Arts learning programs

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation contest open to all Arizona students in grades 9-12. Participating teachers receive free materials and participating students are eligible for scholarship opportunities. Schools can register on or after Aug 16.

Arts learning professional development

Mary Jenae Sanchez work from Artlink Heritage Square Gallery

The 21st Century Skills Map provides teachers with educator-created examples of how to fuse a broad range of arts (dance, music, theater, visual and media arts) with other areas to promote student knowledge and skills essential to the 21st century workforce.

Arts advocacy

Initial legislation passed at the sub-committee level on July 15 approved level funding ($40 million) for the U.S. Department of Arts in Education (part of the U.S. Department of Education).

Angelica Jubran-Bishara work from Artlink Heritage Square Gallery

Also in July, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation designating the second week of September as “Arts in Education Week“–which is the first Congressional expression of support for all disciplines comprising arts education.

Funding opportunities

Online letter of inquiry applications to the MAP Fund–which provides project-specific funds to playwrights, choreographers, directors, performers and composers experimenting in any performance tradition or discipline–will be available starting Sept 15.

Jennifer Campbell work from Artlink Heritage Square Gallery

The letter of intent deadline for the Surdna Arts Teachers Fellowship program, a national initiative to revitalize outstanding art teachers, is Nov 12. Eligibility guidelines allow arts teachers working in specialized public arts high schools and arts-focused magnet and charter schools to apply.

Art exhibit opportunities

The Artlink Heritage Square Gallery is seeking a wide variety of visual media from high school students across the country to display in their first ever group show in November. Submission deadline is Sept 3.

Christine Messiti work from Artlink Heritage Square Gallery

The statewide Faces of Afterschool art project is seeking self-portraits for possible exhibition at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix as part of national Lights Out Afterschool. Deadline is Aug 30.

These are just a few of the tidbits I found in the latest online newsletter of the arts learning department at the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

It also features information on arts-related research and reports, arts-related conferences, exhibition opportunities for student-related outreach programs and more–with links you can follow to learn more or get involved. Click here to read it yourself.

Jennifer Campbell work from Artlink Heritage Square Gallery

Special thanks to Mandy Buscas, Arts Learning Director, and Alex Nelson, Arts Learning Coordinator, for helping us all stay up to date on the latest and greatest arts learning news in Arizona.

And thanks to all you parents who support your local arts teachers with gifts of time, talent, information and advocacy. Together we’re assuring that America keeps art in its heart.

–Lynn

Note: Artwork photos are from the Artlink Heritage Gallery WordPress blog at www.artlinkhsgallery.wordpress.com. Click here to subscribe to the arts learning newsletter and/or other publications from the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

Coming up: Where art meets civics, Valley theaters launch seasons with exciting show selections, Arizona performers dance their way to the Radio City Rockettes, Finding fall arts classes