Arts Education Week 2018 featuring Arts Now Heroes

Pulling Together Outside Resources in Support of Equity

Miko is working to address issues of equity in arts education by utilizing outside resources and synergizing multiple initiatives happening all at once in her area. Marin county is home to 30,000 students in 18 school districts, with schools ranging from extremely wealthy to Title I funded schools with limited community resources. As a result, issues of equity are profound in the region. In order to help address this inequity, Miko has served as a connector, collaborator and leader in elementary data collection, the arts planning process, National Arts in Education Week event planning and the Alliance Arts Now Community program. Reaching well beyond her role as Executive Director of the nonprofit Youth in Arts, Miko has leveraged the collective power of multiple initiatives to address equity issues. 

Elementary Data Helps Leverage Support for Arts Ed

Sarah knew that to galvanize support for arts education from leaders across her county, she needed accurate local data. To help identify gaps and avoid duplication, she would need to reach beyond easily accessible information about class enrollments and capture elementary instruction and community partner work. Sarah has long been a leader in creating survey tools, collecting data and presenting arts education data in compelling ways, but the initial response rate to her surveys were low. That’s when Sarah adopted an attitude of “I am going to make this happen” and encouraged individuals throughout the county to complete the survey. On October 18, 2017, Sarah presented the Santa Cruz County Arts Education Data Project to arts organizations, district leaders, parents, and community members in the county. The data provided a clear picture of what is needed and activated action at the district level.

Arts Integration Training Turns Teachers into Advocates 

As Arts Now Community Leader and Director of Arts Education at the San Benito County Arts Council, Amanda wanted to provide opportunities for teachers to be arts education leaders in their schools. She realized that the established arts integration workshops that were taking place in partnership with the county office of education could transition to a more in-depth learning model that produced teacher-advocates. Amanda found that “in arts-integration workshops many teachers reconnect to themselves and their practice through art-making, which oftentimes leads to a shift in their identity—from teacher to changemaker. The changemaker is the arts education advocate!” The transition to a half-day arts integration workshop model builds relationships with local partners, allies, and advocates and serves as an opportunity to talk about work happening locally, statewide, and nationally.

Connection to Higher Ed Leads to New Opportunities

Virginia had the unique opportunity to co-author a research article about arts education in Humboldt County with Jim Woglon, Professor at Humboldt State University. The article shared the results of a large data collection effort that surveyed all schools, including elementary schools, in order to gain a clearer vision of who in the county was not receiving arts education. Once the survey results were received, Virginia compared the county data with statewide data and with what superintendents had reported in LCAPs. She worked with Professor Woglon’s students to process data into easily digestible infographics, which have proved to be effective tools for arts education advocacy. The information is easy to understand and is delivered without judgement; anyone can read it, learn from it, and find ways to help. Ultimately, Virginia hopes that this research will garner support for arts plan implementation in the region.

Exhibition Raises Awareness of Arts Education

Hannah helped to create an opportunity for K-12 students to display their work in a gallery and produced an event that positioned arts education as a vibrant and valued part of Santa Barbara County schools. The art show faced many challenges. Two natural disasters – the Thomas fire and the devastating Montecito debris flow incident that followed – demanded significant resources and disrupted the planning for the event. As a result, there was a low response rate to the initial call for artists. This is where Hannah began an “exercise in persistence”: she reached out to smaller districts and connected personally with teachers throughout the county to solicit submissions. As a result of Hannah’s personalized outreach, the show eventually received 100 student works, which offered compelling evidence of the value of arts learning and connected people from all over the county for an event that truly reflected its title, “Come Together.”