Posts Tagged ‘AFTA’


Shooting Star

January 7, 2020

AftA post

This is reprinted from the ARTS Blog, November 12, 2019, Americans for the Arts written by Narric Rome.

Yesterday, an Education Commission of the States staff member with the memorable name of Claus von Zastrow published a blog reporting the findings of an arteducation question included in the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in Math. It’s a substantial discovery—akin to when new stars are detected in a constellation, or a new species of insect is identified. His blog post and the accompanying data tables are a must-read. My blog here is about the context that must be considered in his discovery.

Since 2001, the “arts,” comprising the disciplines of dance, music, theatre, and visual arts, have been named as one of ten Core Academic Subjects (No Child Left Behind Act) and currently are one of the 18 subjects listed in the definition of a Well-Rounded Education (Every Student Succeeds Act). In theory, this should mean that the U.S. Department of Education and its research arm, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), should provide ongoing and detailed data into how arts education is resourced in the country—right?

No. Longtime Department of Education watchers know that since 1995, there have been just two kinds of arts education research by the federal government. A few federal research “access” reports (1995, 2002, 2012) asked principals and teachers in just 1,800 schools about who is receiving, or being offered, arts education in their schools. Relatedly, there have been three NAEPs in the Arts (1997, 2008, 2016) which measure knowledge and skills in the subject, but is severely limited in its scope. How and why is it limited? That’s a story for another time, but not one of these tests over 25 years has ever captured arts education data on a state-by-state basis.

As Claus mentions, the federal agency tasked with administering the “Nation’s Report Card” (the National Assessment Governing Board or NAGB) decided to terminate one of these two federal studies this past July, which immediately alarmed arts education advocates and education staff in the U.S. Senate who were frustrated by this unexpected development. It appears that federal arts education research has been cut by 50%.

So when eagle-eyed Claus spotted in the Math NAEP released in October 2019, among the 40 multi-part questions asked of the eighth grade test takers, that Question #21 was about art education—he must have been floored. As I am.

This question, put to the 147,000 students that were a part of the 2019 Math NAEP sample, must be the single largest arts education data point in the history of federal education research.

Now, the question only refers to one discipline, (visual) art education—I’m sure my friends at the National Art Education Association and the Arts Education Partnership will be excitedly digesting this data for quite some time—so it’s in no way capturing the full arts education picture. But here are three simple highlights I’ve spotted from this single question, with thanks again to Claus for assembling the data.

For the first time ever in history, there is a state by state breakdown of participation in art education.

In the graphic below, the darker the state, the greater the participation in art education. Vermont has the highest at 68%; some states, like Montana, South Dakota, Utah, Colorado, and Alaska, didn’t get enough students in the sample to count; and Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana provided the least art education, between 16% to 18% of eighth graders.

As conventional wisdom holds, students from wealthier families have greater participation in art classes.

In Indiana, 40% of students eligible for the National Free & Reduced Lunch program (an indicator of household income) were in an art education course, compared to 50% of (wealthier) students not eligible for the lunch program. There’s a similar 10 point gap in Rhode Island, an 11 point gap in New York, a 12 point gap in Pennsylvania, and a whopping 21 point difference in Connecticut! On the other hand, Iowa, Nebraska, West Virginia, and Wisconsin by this measure present very little wealth disparities in who receives art education in their states.

Art education can be provided in any location—city, suburb, town, or rural community.

Arkansas is among a handful of states that provides significantly more art education in its rural areas, surpassing city, suburb, and town categories. The largest state, California, demonstrates equal particpation in art education among these location categories. This set of data, comparing provision of art education in varying population densities, is also the first time federal data of this kind has ever been shared nationally.

Like a singular and brief shooting star, the “von Zastrow discovery” leaves us with so many more questions, some about the data and some about the federal research efforts.

  • Who put this question into the Math NAEP?
  • Was anyone at NAGB going to tell the arts education field this question was there?
  • Are any federal researchers reviewing this data—and will they include questions like this in future studies for the other arts disciplines?
  • Is the arts education field expected to survive on data breadcrumbs that some enlightened soul at the National Center for Education Statistics stuck into a NAEP survey?

Arts education advocates, and Congress, have begun to respond to the proposed demise of the Arts NAEP, and innovations and advances in collecting arts education access and participation data may result from this effort. In fact, significant progress continues to be made in several states that have tapped into their state longitudinal data systems for annual state-level data on arts education—see California, New Jersey, Ohio, and Arizona. But if the U.S. Department of Education’s purpose is anything, it’s to report on education access on a national level—not just passively leave this task to states and nonprofits to cobble it together.

So, while we can celebrate this beautiful shooting star of a data point tucked away in the Math NAEP, we need more. We need the arts to be treated as a full constellation in the sky.


AFTA Advisory Councils

September 26, 2019

Looking for leaders

Americans for the Arts is looking for arts leaders across the country to serve on four of our Advisory Councils. These Advisory Councils are comprised of field leaders who help guide Americans for the Arts’ programs and services that will build essential capacities, spark necessary conversations, and forge deeper connections in the arts field. Nominate yourself or a colleague today! Deadline for nominations: October 4, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. EST. You must be a member of AFTA to be nominated.

The Arts Education Advisory Council advises Americans for the Arts’ staff on trends in the field to create programs and services that will build a deeper connection to the field and the Arts Education Network. Council members are involved in:

  1. Participating in a council committee to work on projects such as:
    1. Selecting the Arts Education Leadership Award recipient planning the winter council meeting, and reviewing nominations for new council members, etc.
    2. Advising on communications strategies to reach broader audiences in the arts education, and related fields.
    3. Contribute to professional development offerings through ArtsU, publications, and the annual convention.
  2. Advising staff on large scale projects, such as:
    1. Creative Youth Development Toolkit
    2. STEAM initiatives
    3. The Arts Education Navigator
    4. Future publications
  3. Participating in Americans for the ARTSblog, including writing and responding to posts, participating in blog salons, etc.
  4. Participating and supporting network-specific programs such as National Arts in Education Week and more.

More information on the councils is located at THIS LINK

I presently serve on the Arts Education Council; don’t hesitate to contact me at if you have questions.


Happy Arts in Education Week!

September 10, 2019

Americans for the Arts celebrating 

It’s finally here — join Americans for the Arts and arts leaders, educators, and students across the country in celebrating the powerful impact of arts in education all this week, September 8-14, 2019!
Passed by Congress in 2010, House Resolution 275 designates the week beginning with the second Sunday in September as National Arts in Education Week. During this week, the field of arts education joins together in communities across the country to tell the story of the impact of the transformative power of the arts in education.
AFTAStarSmall.png Gather online with arts education supporters with this year’s National Arts in Education Week Virtual Conversation. Take a look at the current state of arts education with theReflecting on the State of Arts Education” Virtual Conversation on Monday, September 9, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. EST, and envision the future of arts education with the A Look Forward into the Future of Arts Education” Virtual Conversation on Friday, September 13, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. EST.
AFTAStarSmall.png Learn from educators and leaders throughout the week on Americans for the Arts’ARTSBlog posts celebrating National Arts in Education Week.
AFTAStarSmall.png Stay up to date on all the week’s news and events by joining the National Arts in Education Week Event on Facebook.
AFTAStarSmall.png Tag tweets using #ArtsEdWeek and #BecauseOfArtsEd through National Arts in Education Week, and use these hashtags to read and share stories about the impact of arts education.
AFTAStarSmall.png Join the National Arts in Education Week social media campaign using our How-To Guide.
AFTAStarSmall.png Work with your elected officials and decision-makers to share the value of the arts in education using our resources, including sample resolutions and videos.
AFTAStarSmall.png Send an op-ed to your local newspaper using relevant talking points about the importance of arts in education.
AFTAStarSmall.png Use our online guided tool, the Arts Education Navigator, to craft a personal advocacy plan.
AFTAStarSmall.png Host a celebration in your community, whether big or small, an existing event, or a new one.
AFTAStarSmall.png Check out local #ArtsEdWeek events on ArtsMeet, a national arts event calendar.
AFTAStarSmall.png Download the 5 Ways to Partner Packet for other ideas of how to celebrate in your community!

AFTA Resources

June 14, 2019

Americans for the Arts

AFTA has tons of resources on their website. Like many outstanding sites there are too many resources to locate. Over the next few weeks I will provide resources on the blog that you can include in your summer independent learning or perhaps use when coming together with colleagues for collaborative learning. I encourage you to share them with others. And don’t hesitate to email me at with resources that you find useful so I can share them with others on the Maine Arts Education blog.

AFTA has a collection of videos called “Encourage Creativity: Teach the Arts”. Who to use each video ‘with’ and ‘what for’ is included with each description to help you determine if they will work for you. They provide the length of each video and they are each downloadable. The four videos range from 42 minutes to a documentary that is 7 hours and 19 minutes long. They are filled with stories, facts and figures to use for advocacy, and voices of learners of all ages.

They are creative documents that are very well put together. Please check them out at THIS LINK


New International Resource

January 19, 2019

ARTS EDxchange

Americans for the Arts is home to the International Arts Education Research and Resource Exchange – or ARTS EDxchange – a digital platform fostering engagement and collaboration between arts educators and practitioners from around the world. Open to Americans for the Arts members and non-members alike, ARTS EDxchange is the first international arts education listserv, allowing subscribers the opportunity to share their work with a global audience and access resources on the cutting edge of arts and cultural education. Learn more.

This is the first-of-its-kind international arts education listserv, allowing subscribers the opportunity to share their work with a global audience and access resources on the cutting edge of arts and cultural education.

You can sign up for ARTS EDxchange here and please share with others!


Arts Education Leadership

September 27, 2018

Message from Robert Lynch

Even though National Arts in Education Week has come and gone for another year we know that the work taking place at the heart of arts education continues throughout the year. It is in large and small classrooms and communities across Maine where educators and artists are making a difference in the lives of learners of all ages. Many of you go about this work and play quietly and go unnoticed. You are the heroes of arts education!

I ask you to pause for a moment and consider what it would be like if you took the time to let others know about your work. Would it make a difference in your community and/or school?  Could it provide a brighter future for that individual you are teaching or perhaps hundreds of others?

We need effective educators and supporters of arts education to use their voices beyond National Arts in Education Week. Think about stepping up and asking for a seat at the table – taking on a leadership role so the voice of arts education is recognized. It can make a difference for one learner and many learners.

Robert Lynch, the President and CEO of Americans for the Arts (AFTA), put out a call on this very topic. AFTA is committed to “empowering diverse leadership across the education field, in every state and every community from coast to coast.” READ MR. LYNCH’S BLOG POST and consider what your role is beyond teaching and supporting arts education.


Downtown Aurora Visual Arts

July 9, 2018

Amazing work

The Americans for the Arts Education Council members visited and took a walking tour led by Karina Banuelos in the neighborhood of the Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (DAVA). Twenty five years ago an artist from Aurora, CO started a project with young kids in the community creating a mosaic. After two years of work the mosaic was installed on the side of a building in the heart of Aurora. The students asked if they could continue visiting the artists’ studio and the Downtown Aurora Visual Arts was born. From day one they’ve been evaluating this creative youth development program and the data has been aligned with a bump in the test scores in the nearby schools. Consequently the program is supported by the school district. The positive impact has been continuous on young people and the community. They are doing cutting edge work in multiple programs from drawing classes to an engaging job training program.

Aurora is only a 25 minute car ride from Denver and the arts community successfully meets the needs of young people and families. Working with teaching artists and a dedicated staff it is a fine example of not just surviving but thriving. The Americans for the Arts Education Council members visited and took a walking tour in the neighborhood.

The art center was alive with students from young elementary through high school. Creative Youth Development at it’s best. We saw an amazing exhibit that was created in connection with many science topics; nutrition, the body system, parasites, bacteria, microbioms.

Their programs build upon each other starting with young children, ages 2-6, and their parents two days a week. The after school programs services 100 kids a week and the program continues throughout the summer with even more learners. The clay program had 30 students of all ages – learning from and with each other. This summer they will mix their own glazes so students can be introduced to chemistry.

The Job Training program had students solving a murder mystery while creating a plaster skeleton learning about tissues, bones, and the anatomy of a human. They combined science and art to help solve the identity of the person. In addition they were learning about how to take care of their own body.

For the past nine years they’ve had a film program which partners with the Colorado Film School located close by.  They’ve had students receive recognition at the state and national Scholastic awards program for PSA films that they’ve created.

Their creative youth development program continues to move young people forward in the experiential learning environment filled with student choice and voice. Originally their goal was to get kids to and through high school. Their success has raised the bar and now they are getting into college and some return to give back by working at the art center.

Info below is from a handout provided to us:

Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (DAVA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening the Aurora community through the arts, with a primary focus on youth engagement. By providing a safe learning environment for youth ages three to 17, DAVA programs reinforce 21st century life skills, build self-esteem, and connect youth to the community. DAVA represents a unique combination of arts education and youth development, demonstrating how quality arts programming during after- school hours forms a critical framework for long-term youth success. DAVA reinforces the message that youth are an integral part of community cultural development and in 2016 received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Programs Award (NAHYP) for providing a solution for urban communities through its model of creative youth development, combining excellence in the arts with positive youth development. DAVA “taps the untapped potential” in young people by providing access tocreative programming year-round.

In addition, DAVA takes a lead role in organizing the Colorado Alliance for Creative Youth Development ( We regularly meet with 10 community-based arts organizations to share best practices and evaluation methodology, as well as advocate for creative youth development opportunities across the state. Members have benefitted from the use of a common survey—to track youth outcomes both in terms of arts skills and youth development, use data for improvement of programs, monitor feedback from youth, share results, and advocate for dedicated support for young people who benefit from experiential learning with an emphasis on equity and access.


Art and Music From Belfast High School

March 26, 2018

Sharing their passion

At Point Lookout in Northport on a beautiful day in February the Maine Arts Commission provided an opportunity to hear about Maine’s most recent arts and cultural economic impact data from two studies. Speaker Randy Cohen, Vice President for Research and Policy at Americans for the Arts (AFTA) shared the national Arts and Economic Prosperity 5(AEP5). Dee Schneidman from the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) shared the highlights of The Jobs in New England’s Creative Economy and Why They Matter.

In addition, Arts EngageME was introduced, the nonprofit support and advocacy organization.  The organization is building an environment that engages all sectors, public and private, across Maine to promote the awareness and value of the creative and cultural sectors, and to invest in their sustainability. We envision a state that values the impact of arts and culture on Maine’s livability, vitality, and prosperity.

We were honored to have beautiful center pieces created by students from the Art Honor Society at Belfast High School. Thanks to art teachers Caitlin Algers and Heidi O’Donnell. Music teacher David Coffey brought four musicians from his  Modern Band class. The  students learn to play and sing, perform, improvise and compose using the popular styles that they know (and don’t know) and love (and might come to love) including rock, pop, reggae, hip hop, country and other modern styles. Modern band utilizes guitar, bass, keyboard, drums, vocals, and technology. They were awesome. The students included Jesse Kulbe, guitar and vocals, Macartney Wyatt, keyboard and vocals, Taylor Kinney, bass, and Jesse Perry, drums. All four students are seniors at Belfast High School. Thank you all for your contributions to remind those who attended what the reports are really all about – students and the future!

Arts Education News

January 14, 2018

Great ‘food for thought’

Thanks to the Americans for the Arts (AFTA) for providing these articles in the news! Join AFTA and receive this kind of arts education information and much more.



VANS Grants

January 7, 2018

Available for high schools

Deadline: February 9, 2018
VANS Custom Culture Grants are available to public high schools (including charter schools) serving students in grades 9-12 or community based nonprofit organizations/governmental agencies serving as a fiscal agent for arts programming at a qualifying school. The grants are intended to encourage the inclusion of the arts as an integral component of an excellent education, and to support activities that are consistent with local and national learning standards for arts education. Ten (10) schools across the country will each receive a $2,000 grant to support their work in providing high-quality dance, media arts, music, theatre and/or visual arts instruction for students.

Americans for the Arts is pleased to again partner with VANS the Custom Culture Grant program. This program seeks to increase visibility for and resources available to arts educators and schools across the country, in order to sustain the arts as a vital part of education. The grant program is supported by funds from the sales of the winning shoe design in the Custom Culture Art Competition.

To learn more, please download the full guidelines (PDF).

%d bloggers like this: