News from Americans for the Arts

December 18, 2014

All about Arts Education

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 8.27.27 AMThe Americans for the Arts website has a plethora of information including this  overview: Americans for the Arts serves, advances, and leads the network of organizations and individuals who cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America. Founded in 1960, Americans for the Arts is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education. Below is information that was provided in their Weekly News Roundup.


  • Sign The Petition – Support Arts Education
    Join us in asking U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to clarify that the arts are eligible for federal funds. This action will especially help new school administrators, who, in an age of overwhelming education reform, may not know what is possible. With most states now operating under waivers from outdated federal education law, now is a great time for the secretary to set the record straight. Let’s raise our voices in chorus to show that we value a well-rounded education for all students! Read more.
  • Stubhub Supports Arts Education
    StubHub, the world’s largest ticket marketplace, is partnering with The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation to raise awareness and support for keeping music education alive in schools across the United States. Watch and share this moving film featuring Trombone Shorty, Grouplove, arts teachers and students on the importance of supporting music education. Read more.
  • Building Social Harmony, One Woodwind At A Time
    The Massachusetts Cultural Council announced this week that it has launched a new music education initiative for underserved students throughout the state — the first statewide program of its kind in the United States. It blends a forward-thinking attitude toward music and arts education and a focus on multiculturalism and community empowerment that, taken together, can dramatically change students’ lives. Read more.
  • Grade Schools Use The Arts To Improve Science Education
    Through an innovative new program developed at UC Irvine, the arts and the sciences – which often occupy opposite ends of the grammar school curriculum – are being integrated to help young students better grasp the basics of Earth, life and physical sciences. Read more.
  • STEM Vs. STEAM: Do The Arts Belong?
    A tug of war is currently looming between proponents of STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) and advocates for STEAM lessons, which add art to the mix. Whichever side you come down on, here are some ideas for you to mull over. Read more.
  • Universal Music Classics Partners With U. Miami’s Frost School Of Music
    Universal Music Classics (a subsidiary of Universal Music Group) and the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music have announced plans to forge a business-academic partnership called Universal Music U @ Frost, intended to grow the next generation of artists and audiences for classical music. Read more.
  • UNM Professor Advocates STEAM Instead Of STEM
    Anne Taylor, who taught art education at the university, served as dean of the graduate school and taught in the School of Architecture and Planning, thinks that STEM’s science, technology, education and math aren’t enough. She would like to see an “A” for “Arts and Architecture” added to the acronym. Read more.
  • National Center for Creative Aging Invites Applications for Technical Assistance Program
    Grants of $5,000 will be awarded to help organizations host and provide onsite technical assistance to a MetLife Foundation Leadership Award winner. The Leadership Award Winner will mentor senior staff and will help train staff, partnering organizations, and community members in developing an arts program. The grant also is intended to support the production of a half-day best practices forum that brings together programs, organizations, and community partners dedicated to the arts, education, health, social work, and aging in the community. Read more.
  • These 12 Childhood Art Techniques Can Help Adults Relieve Stress
    Making art doesn’t necessarily sound like a stress reliever. Finding inspiration, keeping concentration, finding your artistic voice — these things demand extreme attention, time and effort. Yet there is something about expressing your creative side that can help put your mind at ease. Read more.
  • The Arts Inspire Success
    Arts education develops a passion for music, painting or acting. Students with a passion for one subject tend to do better academically across the board — an excitement about learning spills over into other areas of the curriculum. Even students who do not develop a lifelong interest in the arts benefit from the skills taught through study of the arts — self-discipline, teamwork, creative thinking and problem-solving. Read more.
  • Why Music Majors Make Some Of The Best Entrepreneurs
    Learning how to play a musical instrument and becoming a musician is an exercise in developing good listening skills, experimenting, overcoming repeated failure, self-discipline, and successful collaboration. It is simply impossible to become a successful music professional unless one also masters certain theoretical concepts, develops good presentation and improvisational skills and, ultimately, attains that elusive quality of originality that only comes once fear of failure is overtaken by the desire to acquire a new insight, a fresh perspective, and a unique voice. Read more.
  • “Art Without A Roof” Supports At-Risk Artists
    Through Educational and Sustainability Initiatives It has often been said that the greatest art is produced by troubled souls. Whether this is true or not, the reality is that many artists do struggle with issues like mental illness, poverty, homelessness and emotional trauma from war experiences. The Art Without a Roof (AWR) brand helps these at-risk artists by offering them the opportunity to obtain a scholarship that can be used on basic needs, tutoring, GED completion, and/or a college scholarship. Read more.

The Testing Camera

December 17, 2014

YouTube FableVision Learning Peter H. Reynolds

If you are not familiar with Peter Reynolds and his website at http://www.fablevisionlearning.com/ I suggest that you take a look and see what he has to offer. His book the dot that he wrote and illustrated is absolutely wonderful!

Thanks to Jay Ketner, World Language Specialist, Maine Department of Education, for sharing this link!




MAC Teaching Artist Roster

December 16, 2014

Unveiled today on the MAC site

Martin Swinger

Martin Swinger

The Maine Arts Commission is excited to announce that the new PK-12 Teaching Artist roster has been created and has gone live today!! The roster has 27 teaching artist profiles and is located at this link https://mainearts.maine.gov/Pages/Education/Teaching-Artist-Roster. It has been a number of years since the Maine Arts Commission (MAC) has had a Teaching Artist Roster. The last one was a (paper) booklet that was very useful to school districts who were seeking additional arts education instruction, specifically from artists. We hope that the new roster becomes a valuable resource.

In addition, MAC has a roster for artists interested in working with older adults. The Creative Aging program at MAC is directed by Kathleen Mundell. The roster is located at this link https://mainearts.maine.gov/Pages/Traditional/Teaching-Artist-Directory. If you have questions about this program please contact Kathleen at kathleen.mundell@maine.gov.

Some of you might be wondering what a Teaching Artist is or what do they do?! MACs definition for a Teaching Artist is below.

Teaching Artists are professional artists who are dedicated to lifelong learning and arts education, have made it an integral part of their professional practice, and who have cultivated skills as educators in concert with their skills as artists.

Malley Weber

Malley Weber

The artists included in the roster were selected after reviewing their applications which reflected their expertise and commitment to providing learning opportunities for students and/or teachers in the PK-12 education setting. We expect that the roster will be used by PK-12 schools as well as community organizations that provide learning opportunities for young people.

A more comprehensive program for Teaching Artists is being created and efforts to address the needs are underway and will grow over time. The next call for Teaching Artist applications will be announced in the Spring 2015.



December 15, 2014


Some say that life is about “making memories”. When I think about my childhood, especially during the holidays, what comes rushing into my mind, are the traditions. Little ones, like helping my Dad put the sled and reindeer (seems like they were life-size) on the lawn and the giant star that hung on the front of the house.

After I got married I mentioned that star every year, until one year my husband made one and surprised me for Christmas. When I drive up the hill at the end of the day the star shines brightly on the roof of our home and puts a smile on my face. When I was about 8 years old I wanted to give presents to my siblings and parents, but had no money to buy anything. I saved the toilet paper and paper towel rolls and wrapped them up and had everyone open them at the same time. I still remember the puzzled looks on their faces and the questions of “what are these?” Of course, “da-do-da-doos”! I can still feel my smile when they all put them to their lips and played them in unison. For years afterwards someone always wrapped one to pass on. I could go on and on about the memories that I have from childhood, in and out of school.

These might seem like little insignificant things to others but they were important to me at the time and remain forever etched in my memory. What do you do each year that is important and makes your heart sing? What do you in your classroom that creates memories for your students?

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 7.22.43 AMAs an adult one of our family traditions is to see the Magic of Christmas each year at the Merrill Auditorium. The Portland Symphony Orchestra, now directed by Robert Moody, is one of those traditions. My husband and I started going when my oldest son (now 27) was a baby. Sadly, my sons aren’t around each year to attend with us but it still continues to be a tradition for us. We attended the performance last evening and it was spectacular. In fact, it was so uniquely different than other years it is one of my favorites. The “collage”, as Robert Moody called the first half of the show, included a diverse group including, Simply Three, a string group that plays traditional tunes in an innovative style. Inanna, Sisters in Rhythm, the all women’s percussion and vocal ensemble has been around for 25 years blending the sounds of West Africa, the Middle East, and Brazil with incredible energy. And the FLUKES, Falmouth Library Ukulele EnSemble, played their version of “Mele Kalikimaka” to the delight of the audience. Two dancers from the Maine State Ballet joined the orchestra for “In the Christmas Tree” from The Nutcracker and Ray Cornils was on the returned Kotzschmar organ after a 2-year refurbishing. Soloist Susie Pepper added a memorable touch in her rendition of “Let it Go” from Frozen. The viola section was highlighted and played one of my favorites, Good King Wenceslas. My all time favorite is “Hallelujah” from Messiah which takes me back to my days in the high school choir. And, of course, the audience sing-along with the almost 3000 people in attendance joining together to make music. I am reminded of the power of music with all those voices.

Congratulations to Rick Nickerson who directs the Magic of Christmas chorus. Rick teaches music at Windham High School. MaryEllen Schaper, dance teacher, from Bonny Eagle Middle School is a member who has been singing with the Magic chorus for over 30 years. I am guessing that there are other teachers involved in the orchestra or the chorus. Please email me at argy.nestor@maine.gov so you can be recognized for your contribution to this delightful tradition.

I understand there are tickets still available for next weeks performance of the Magic of Christmas. I recommend going and making some memories of your own!


2015-16 MLTI Artwork Challenge

December 14, 2014

Student Opportunity

Over the last six years, the MLTI device has featured screen savers featuring outstanding student works of art (twenty each year). To date, there have been well over two thousand pieces of artwork submitted. WOWZER! Currently images are made available as a screensaver download on the following MLTI Devices: HP ProBooks & Apple MacBooks.

"Eye in Triangle", by Dominick Bernard, Deering High School, Grade 10

“Eye in Triangle”, by Dominick Bernard, Deering High School, Grade 10

The opportunity to submit artwork is available to Maine students in grades K-12. MLTI asks that students submit only ONE piece of artwork to be considered for 2015-2016 MLTI devices. Please take careful note of the sizing and labeling requirements. Submissions not meeting these requirements or students submitting multiple works will not have their artwork reviewed. The deadline to submit artwork for this challenge is January 2, 2015. Works of art submitted will be scored by an independent review committee using a rubric.

The students whose artwork is selected will have their artwork on 2015-2016 MLTI Devices, receive free Student Conference registration (May 21, 2015) and also have their artwork printed and displayed at the Department of Education in the spring.

"Holograms", by Elana Bolles, Yarmouth High School, Grade 11

“Holograms”, by Elana Bolles, Yarmouth High School, Grade 11

Please submit your artwork to Juanita Dickson. Anyone can submit the artwork (guardian, teacher, student, etc), but please be sure to include the following information in the email:

  • Student name
  • School name
  • Grade
  • Teacher (Adult) name & email address (this is who we’ll contact with result)
  • Artwork title

Don’t forget to read the guidelines! If your picture is not properly sized/submitted, it can not be considered for the challenge.

For the artwork submission guidelines (.pdf) please click here.

"Striations", by Matthew Lambert, Mount Desert Island High School, Grade 10

“Striations”, by Matthew Lambert, Mount Desert Island High School, Grade 10

MLTI Artwork Challenge Timeline

  • January 2, 2015 – Submissions due.
    Please email your submission to Juanita Dickson at juanita.dickson@maine.gov. Confirmation of receipt will be emailed to you.
  • January 3 – January 20, 2015 – Selection committee reviews submissions using a rubric.
  • January 25, 2015 – Teachers of the students with selected pieces will be notified by this date. A release form will need to be signed by parents and sent back to MLTI before any names are released to the public.
  • February 15, 2015 – Release forms due to back to the MLTI Project Office
  • Late February 2015 – Selected artwork information released to the public.
  • May 21, 2015 – Student Conference. Selected students will be invited to join us at the Student Conference free of charge (students will need to complete online registration)

Please contact Juanita Dickson at juanita.dickson@maine.gov with any questions.

To view all of the past screen saver images please click here.



Maine Alliance for Arts Ed News

December 13, 2014

Building Community Through the Arts

In November the Maine Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE) brought five English classes from Bangor and Brewer high schools together for the performance of original works each class had created as part of Building Community Through the Arts (BCTA).  BCTA, the MAAE drama and dance artist residency program now in its fifteenth year, engages whole classes in the collaborative creation of an original play or dance piece, culminating in a regional public performance.

FullSizeRenderThe three Brewer High School groups, all creative writing classes of teacher Michelle MacDonald, worked with drama teaching artist Jeri Pitcher to create and perform works that were based on their self-identified social issues. These were compelling and in some cases darkly humorous plays of social criticism directed at such issues as persistent negative attitudes, social labels and intolerance of difference. Even online social networking came under criticism, for paradoxically encouraging a focus on self rather than on caring about others.

The two Bangor High School classes of teacher Angela Domina, both college preparatory classes in Junior English, worked with dance teaching artist Katenia Keller to create dances that expressed universal  themes, such as nature versus societal order, and loyalty versus betrayal that the students  had explored in their readings of medieval British literature.

FullSizeRender 4Initiated in response to the tragedy at Columbine High School, the collaborative process in the MAAE program helps to break down social barriers among students even as its classroom setting directly connects that process with academic learning. As one Bangor student remarked,  “just as we all have to work together to form a dance group, all the parts need to work together to form a story.”

For more on the November student performances and photos visit MAAE’s website, www.maineartsed.org.


Camden Hills Regional High School

December 12, 2014

Winter Choral Concert

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 6.10.25 AM


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