New York, NY – February 15, 2018 – Young Audiences Arts for Learning (YA) is proud to announce that its annual advocacy and awareness campaign, Young Audiences Arts for Learning Week (YA Week), will take place March 25 – April 7, 2018.
The arts have always been in my life, and I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to say that. However, I didn’t have super artistic parents; in fact, art wasn’t really even a hobby for my parents. My dad is a pilot and was always more math and science-minded, and my mom had a varied career history, including accounting, marketing and flight attendant, but the arts were never involved in their professional lives, and besides my mom playing the piano now and then, not in their personal lives either. However, they always encouraged both my involvement in and appreciation of the arts. I started taking dance classes when I was three, and my parents started taking me to the theatre productions when I was around six years old. There were museums, piano lessons and choir concerts throughout my life. I also had the typical arts classes in school, stayed involved in choir, theatre and dance through my teenage years, went on to major in theatre in college and moved on to have a career in the non-profit arts world. Why? I was encouraged to participate in the arts, where I ended up finding my niche and passion, and I was given the support and tools I needed to do just that.
Created by state education leaders and governors from 48 states, the Common Core is the largest effort in the United States to develop a set of unified standards intended to equip students with the knowledge and skills required to succeed in college and careers. A popular refrain from Common Core advocates is “fewer, higher, deeper” — in essence the main shift from previous standards is to offer a reduced number of more rigorous standards. The Core has been met with mixed reactions from educators around the nation. Some are excited about the emphasis on deep critical thinking and others find the new mandates and benchmarks to be cumbersome and confusing. When it comes to the connection between Common Core and the arts, there is a lot to be explored.
It’s a tired story. Funding in education is cut, channeled to nationally backed reform efforts, or school enrollment shrinks along with budgets for teachers and programs. We all know the reasons why the arts are the first to take a hit: they can’t be measured on a test, they’re too subjective, they’re not impacting learning in the core classroom, and too many are not skills based. While some of that may be true some of it is also blatantly false. For example, a 2016 report issued by Americans for the Arts stated,
“Data from The College Board show that in 2015, students who took four years of arts and music classes while in high school scored an average of 92 points higher on their SATs than students who took only one-half year or less.” (1)
Additional research with school age child development shows “a group of 162 children, ages 9-10, were trained to look closely at works of art and reason about what they saw. The results showed that children’s ability to draw inferences about artwork transferred to their reasoning about images in science.”(2)
As artists, we are often put in a seemingly precarious position of needing to justify our life’s work, and its purpose. Artists often have to justify their profession in a way that neurosurgeons, for example, don’t. We never hear of neurosurgeons being asked to explain the massive expense of their equipment because it so clearly saves lives.
Of course, on the other hand, the national neurosurgery awards are not televised for the world to see, and, for better or worse, naval captains who perform acts of bravery do not capture the flashing gaze of the paparazzi.
But the point is that we, as artists, educators, aesthetes, and supporters feel forced to justify our artistic worldview and activity. And we often do so through the language of spending and revenue, through market capitalism and its brethren. There is nothing wrong with this, but it is not the most critical or powerful tool that we have.
Thomas Hardy stated, “Time changes everything, except something within us that is always surprised by change.” With the passing of another year at Think 360 Arts, change has certainly been in the air. We have effectively increased programming to reach 9,000 more students than last year, and we continue to impact thousands of teachers and teaching artists through guided professional development. Our focus is on our mission to lead Colorado in cultivating and sustaining the arts as essential to all learning through creative experiences for students and teachers, while striving towards our vision of a community that embraces the arts as a fundamental tool to enhance learning and upholding our values of collaboration, equity and access, diversity, creativity, quality and fun in all we do.