Blog Posts for Maryland

Friday Is the New Tuesday, and Other Observations on the “New Normal” in the Nonprofit Arts Sector

Posted by Eileen Cunniffe, Jan 16, 2014 0 comments

Eileen Cunniffe Eileen Cunniffe

In the waning days of 2013, an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer cited examples of performing arts organizations experimenting with curtain times, holding some weeknight performances as early as 6:30 pm instead of the long-accepted standard of 8:00 pm. The reasons given included appealing to younger audiences, who might want to go somewhere else after the show; appealing to older audiences, who might appreciate getting home earlier; and appealing to everyone in between, who might find it easier to hire a babysitter or just to show up for work the next day. One of the early trends from this experimentation is that some midweek performances with earlier curtain times are pulling even with or outpacing once-hot Friday evening ticket sales.

In other words, Friday is the new Tuesday—or maybe Tuesday is the new Friday? Either way, this is as good a place as any to begin the conversation about what constitutes the “new normal” for the nonprofit arts and culture sector and how arts organizations continue to respond to the changing environment in terms of audience behaviors and, in the wake of the Great Recession, evolving funder behaviors, too.

Looking back at 2013, it was in many ways a year of contradictory trends in the arts sector: two steps forward, one step back, or perhaps the other way around. Growth, contraction, innovation, struggle, resurrection, collapse.

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The Importance of Learning throughout Our Lives

Posted by Ms. Carol Bogash, Sep 18, 2013 1 comment

Carol Bogash Carol Bogash

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” - Albert Einstein

What is Life Long Learning?  Simply, I believe it is the consistent and deep engagement of the mind and body in the active pursuit of knowledge and experience from birth to death.  Now, science is helping to support the importance of learning in keeping brains active and healthy for a lifetime.  The Maryland State Department of Education with the Johns Hopkins University School of Education published a set of guidelines in 2010 entitled Healthy Beginnings, supporting development and learning from birth through three years of age.  The Dana Alliance for the Brain states in its paper Learning as We Age (2012) that “mental exercise, especially learning new things or pursuing activities that are intellectually stimulating, may strengthen brain-cell networks and help preserve mental functions. The brain is just as capable of learning in the second half of life as in the first half.”

Over recent years, neuroscientists continue to conduct research on how the mental and physical activities so integral to the arts are equally fundamental for brain function. Charles Limb, brain scientist and musician at Johns Hopkins University (and a member of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s science advisory team), says that “the brain on arts is different than the everyday brain. Art is magical, but it is not magic. It is a neurological product and we can study it. “

At the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra we are committed to the importance of engagement in music from the earliest age to the oldest.  The BSO Music Box Series (™) introduces children 6 months to three years of age to music, art, and reading through interactive activities designed to stimulate awareness, listening, coordination, language, and music making.  Although the research is anecdotal based on observance, we are seeing positive recognition in children who are attending these experiences on a regular basis.

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Arts Teacher Evaluation and Support in an Urban Reform Context

Posted by Brian Schneckenburger, Sep 12, 2013 0 comments

Brian Schneckenburger Brian Schneckenburger

I serve as the Educational Specialist in Visual and Performing Arts for the Baltimore City Public Schools, where I oversee implementation of curriculum, assessment, and some aspects of teacher evaluation. The district is concluding a six-year period that has been marked by several large-scale reforms that included the implementation of a funding model that placed unprecedented decision-making power in the hands of principals, as well as expanded school choice options for students.

The system is now turning its attention to several transformations that have a direct effect on teaching and learning in the arts. As in other districts, City Schools is overhauling its curriculum to align with the Common Core State Standards. Additionally, City Schools is undertaking a ten-year overhaul of the district’s buildings including modernized spaces for the arts, and developing processes to ensure instructional and leadership effectiveness that allow for professional growth around not only arts-related content, but in the unique ways that arts learning supports Common Core principles. The district has also instituted new support systems that govern the ways that leaders and teachers are supported, developed, and evaluated.

Effective leadership is an important component of any successful school system. To support administrators and teachers, City Schools has piloted and implemented an Instructional Framework that has taken into account effective teaching practices in all disciplines. The framework parses the act of teaching into three areas: plan, teach, and reflect and adjust. These three areas follow a cyclical pattern, where reflection and adjustment inform planning.  Current work in progress includes the formulation of a set of key teaching actions that outline instructional procedures and techniques germane to arts education. The key actions documents will act as discipline-specific complements to the techniques listed in the framework, and will provide administrators with a valuable reference with which to guide support and evaluation conversations.

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The Many Ways to Connect Arts & Business (from The pARTnership Movement)

Posted by Emily Peck, Mar 28, 2013 0 comments

Emily Peck Emily Peck

Last week, I left snowy New York City to spend some time in sunny Ft. Lauderdale at the invitation of the Broward Cultural Division to talk with arts organizations about the many ways they can partner with local businesses.

We discussed how to build a successful and meaningful partnership by thinking of the needs of business first, and how to look beyond the usual suspects when thinking about potential business partners.

We were joined by local business leaders from Florida Power and Light and Merrimac Ventures who spoke about how partnering with the arts helped their business engage new customers, reach new audiences, and enhance the quality of life for their communities. For more tips on creating partnerships check out our Building pARTnerships on Your Own toolkit.

This type of training session is just one way you can use the resources of The pARTnership Movement in your community. Here are some other ideas:

  • Tell your story: Promote great arts and business partnerships on twitter (#artsandbiz), Facebook, and YouTube. Don't forget to let us know, too!
  • Give a presentation at your local chamber of commerce about how the arts can help local businesses. See how it worked in Montgomery County, MD! 
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Can the Arts Plant Seeds for a Brighter Future?

Posted by Ms. Carol Bogash, Mar 21, 2013 4 comments

Carol Bogash Carol Bogash

In Anne Midgette’s February 2013 article for The Washington Post magazine, the headline asked “Can the Arts Save Students?" After spending many years working in the arts and education arena, I think the better headline might read, “Can the arts plant seeds for a brighter future”? And, I believe the answer is a firm and resounding—YES!

During the 1950s and 60s, school systems in the United States believed in the importance of the arts as part of an excellent education. I actually began my career as a music teacher in the Baltimore City Public Schools during the '60s.

At that time, there were music teachers—indeed departments—in every elementary, middle, and high school. There were bands, orchestras, choirs, and general music throughout the grades. There were performing opportunities for the students. Thousands of children attended Baltimore Symphony Orchestra education concerts. Some of those students went on to become musicians and teachers. Most went on to other professions.

One of my fondest memories is of giving blood at a Red Cross blood drive, and while laying there with a needle in my arm, the nurse began to sing the Western High School song. She had been my student decades before and still loved to sing. I was stunned that she actually remembered the song! 

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