Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Arts Education Advocacy: A Blog Based on the Arts in an Urban Setting Course

Arts Education AdvocacyA Blog Based on the Arts in an Urban Setting Course
Jenni Mabrie

In the midst of a very exciting time in the world of arts education, there is a great calling for advocacy. Only three weeks into classes for the Arts in an Urban Setting course and I am already gaining a wealth of knowledge in regards to the history of education as well as its current standing. I have discovered that while we do have active powerful figures that support our cause, there is still a long way to go in terms of getting our point across. As arts educators, we have all been exposed to the tremendous benefits that an arts education brings to its students, but surprisingly there are some who are not aware of how imperative it really is.

After reading Jennifer Katona’s blog for Americans for the Arts, about the meaning of the proposed reauthorization of the ESEA and the effect that it will have on theatre education, I quickly realized that advocacy is calling. It is very exciting that the new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act includes the arts as a core academic subject, but there are a House and Senate version of the bill. Our goal as arts education advocates is to ensure that the Senate version of the bill is agreed upon, which is the version that implements language that supports open accountability, (which could include the arts).

On Tuesday, September 29th, our class had the pleasure of attending a presentation lead by Jeff Poulin from Americans for the Arts. This presentation consisted of information directly connected to advocacy for arts in education. He spoke about what advocacy is and its different forms. He then spoke about making a case, crafting the message, and getting started. I found that one very powerful form of advocacy is social media. What a great way to start building awareness! Americans for the Arts also has E-books available online for more information regarding advocacy.

Jennifer Katona has set an excellent example of advocacy as she has spoken in class about her journey at Public School 161. When she first approached the Principal at Public School 161 about bringing theatre to the school with the team of the Fundamentals of Teaching Theatre course, they were not jumping at the idea. The school believed that it was simply not a place where theatre belonged. Jennifer and her different teams of  graduate candidates have now successfully produced a number of musicals with the students at Public School. 161. This year, the school has  50 students auditioning for our Fall production of “The Lion King Jr.” It is incredible to see that this program has come so far within a short span of time.

It is our duty as passionate arts educators to do our best to ensure that every student in America has the opportunity to have a sustained arts education. President Obama says, “The future belongs to young people with and education and the imagination to create.” Lets ensure that we support this essential growth of creativity in our youth, and we can do this informing our cause!

It’s not a question of “should we advocate?”
But rather,
“can we afford not to?”
 -Americans for the Arts

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