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Blog Posts for Civic Engagement

Arts Education Poised for Comeback in Nation’s Largest School Districts

Posted by Doug Israel, Apr 07, 2015 0 comments

Urban school districts, such as New York and Chicago, are taking bold steps to expand the school day curriculum and once again invest in arts education. After years of budget cuts, and a narrowing of curriculum at public schools across the country, cities are taking action.

Owing largely to mandates of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, school districts of all sizes spent recent years focusing educational goals very narrowly on improving test scores in just two subject areas—English Language and Math. This focus came at the expense of the arts, music, and other subject areas that were not being tested.

Fortunately, the tide may be turning, and arts education may be making comeback.

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Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts in 2015

Posted by Randy I. Cohen, Mar 13, 2015 8 comments

With the arts advocacy season fully upon us, the following is my updated “10 Reasons to Support the Arts.” Changes this year include updating #3 with the BEA’s new Arts in the GDP research, #8 to include a statement about the benefits of the arts in the military, and #10 includes the new Creative Industries data (now current as of January 2015).

This is just one of many arrows to include in your arts advocacy quiver. While it’s a helpful one, we know there are many more reasons to support the arts. What are yours? Please share your #11 (and more!) in the comments section below. What a great collection we can build together.

Please feel to share and post this as you like. You can download a handy 1-pager here.

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Beauty and the "We"

Posted by Roberto Bedoya, Nov 21, 2014 0 comments

Roberto Bedoya Roberto Bedoya

“Our experience of the beautiful in the recognition of models that make world and community is restricted to the moment when these worlds and communities present themselves explicitly as the plural” - Gianni Vattimo

“We is not the plural of I” - Emmanuel Levinas

Beauty and the We. Beauty as an articulation of the plural, announced in engagement practices, is the experience I know and have been lucky to support in my career. Most recently, as the Director of the Tucson Pima Arts Council. Our team has supported 66 projects since 2010 that advance civic well-being, civic engagement, and community building of the We through the arts. Most prominently, this happens through the PLACE (People, Land, Arts, Culture and Engagement) Initiative, our placemaking/civic engagement platform. These projects create art experiences that shape the identity of place, present visions and manifestations of social cohesion, and activate democracy so as to build and animate the commons. And where is Beauty in PLACE?

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Pop Quiz: Socially Engaged Art and Aesthetics

Posted by Jen Delos Reyes, Nov 21, 2014 0 comments

Jen Delos Reyes Jen Delos Reyes

I received an invitation to participate in this blog salon on the relationship between aesthetics and arts in community development and social change work by way of my work as an artist and organizer around socially engaged art, however my response is most informed by my work as an educator.

From 2007-2014 I served as the co-director of an MFA program focused on art and social practice. The mantra of the program could have easily been that art and social practice starts and ends not in rarefied spaces, but out in the world. The students did not receive studio spaces and instead created their work out in the world through collaborations and partnerships, embedded in communities. The program sought to educate and activate students to develop and utilize their artistic skills to engage in society. It is the kind of education that created engaged citizens. But perhaps the most important aspect of the curriculum was that it asked artists to consider their relationship to and placement in society. So the core questions of this invitation, “But what happens when we assess art not just for art’s sake, but also for its civic purpose?” was a familiar one.

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Seeing Power and Possibility in Socially Engaged Art

Posted by Deborah Fisher, Nov 19, 2014 1 comment

Deborah Fisher Deborah Fisher

There is a productive conflict at the root of any discussion about aesthetics and social practice that I would like to focus on.

On one hand, attempting to articulate anything about the aesthetics of socially engaged art entails confronting a frustrating lack of structure. Anything can be art, and aesthetics can be so broadly defined as judgments of sentiment and taste. Who doesn’t have those, about anything and everything? We don’t quite have a formal analysis of social practice that we all agree upon—no singular framework for seeing and locating the aesthetics in a socially engaged art project.

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The Aesthetics of Politics, Art, and Communications

Posted by Nato Thompson, Nov 18, 2014 0 comments

Nato Thompson Nato Thompson

When we begin to wrap our heads around the fact that culture-making surrounds us on a daily basis, and that everyday people are now both consumers and producers of symbolic production, we can then more accurately approach the question of aesthetics and politics, and begin to see how it operates around us daily.

The question of aesthetics and politics is certainly not new. It has been both a productive and destructive line of inquiry throughout much of the 20th century, much debated between Bertolt Brecht and Theodore Adorno, and the Constructivists and social realists of the Russian Revolution. It sat at the heart of the Harlem Renaissance, was rife throughout 2nd wave feminism, was a central concern of the Zapatistas revolution, and was prominent in so many other social movements. It is a question that is as clumsy as it is urgent. It is neither new nor resolved.

This is all to say: if the topic of aesthetics and politics gives you a headache, find odd comfort knowing that you are not historically alone.

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