March marks the annual arts advocacy efforts taking place around the country. Tennesseans for the Arts (TFTA) is a statewide group that “advocates for the arts at all levels as a strong, unified voice throughout Tennessee.” TFTA’s annual gathering of supporters for Arts Advocacy Day 2018 takes place on March 7th at the Nashville Public Library.
This got me thinking about my work and the privilege of learning from constituents about the power of the arts and their interest in making positive arts experiences possible for young people. They are parents serving on PTOs, students interested in accessing a particular art form, artists wanting to share talents, or organizations reaching out to help their communities. When advocating for arts learning, you may be wondering where to start. See below for some helpful resources.
- Americans for the Arts (AFTA) leads the national network of organizations and individuals who “cultivate, promote, sustain, and support the arts in America.” AFTA’s Arts Education—Getting Started explains basic definitions and answers the what, why, where, who, and when in arts education. Another feature to look for is the Arts Education Field Guide naming the national, state, and local partners who are part of the arts education ecosystem. The guide also helps pinpoint what needs and assets may exist in your community.
- The Kennedy Center published the Arts Education Advocacy Toolkit, a how-to advocacy guide. Not only does this document lay out how to create an advocacy plan, but it also describes “The Habits of Effective Arts Education Advocates,” which begins with getting clear on what you believe and letting “your beliefs [. . .] be the guide for your actions.”
- Arts Education Partnership (AEP), a center within the Education Commission of the States devoted to “advancing the arts in education through research, policy and practice,” authored Preparing Students for the Next America: The Benefits of an Arts Education. This research-based bulletin offers a snapshot of how the arts support achievement in school, work, and life by showcasing arts education within a broader context.
- ArtsEdSearch, a project of AEP, is an “online clearinghouse that collects and summarizes high-quality research studies on the impacts of arts education.” This database contains 200 studies and is designed for policymakers and education leaders to understand and communicate arts education from four perspectives: student outcomes, educator outcomes, during the school day, and during out-of-school time.To summarize the resources above: Understanding what you believe, supporting these beliefs with research, and positioning your efforts within a broader context and ecosystem may be helpful as you march forward in arts education advocacy.
For more information, visit www.tnartscommission.org.