It Takes a Village in Arts Education (Part 1)

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Aug 28, 2012 6 comments

Since I started my tenure at Americans for the Arts, we’ve been discussing variations on the theme of: “It takes a village to educate a child.”

During the 2011 Annual Convention, we had two arts education leaders (Ayanna Hudson and Margie Reese) discuss how this works in their respective communities. At the time, we were calling this phenomenon “coordinated delivery.”

We featured this trend in our Fall issue of ArtsLink. "Tete-a-Tete: Integrated Arts Education Approaches" defines coordinated delivery as “collaboration across communities for both shared delivery of arts instruction by arts specialists, teaching artists, and general classroom teachers AND shared leadership for arts education among arts agencies, education agencies, parents, and businesses.”

The article highlights the similarities and differences between two well-known coordinated delivery systems in the country: Arts for All in Los Angeles (Ayanna) and Big Thought in Dallas (Margie).

Here are two charts to illustrate the idea of coordinated delivery:

But this article wasn’t the first to point out this coordinated delivery approach to arts education.

Other examples include:

  • The Arts Education Council here at Americans for the Arts identified coordinated delivery models as one of the seven arts education trends described in their 2010 report.
  • The Arts Education Partnership featured several communities’ systemic approaches during a plenary session at their 2011 Fall Forum in San Francisco.
  • The Wallace Foundation has funded six of these collaborative efforts across the country: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles County, New York City and Alameda County (Northern California). You can read about these efforts in the Wallace Foundation’s report, Revitalizing Arts Education Through Community-Wide Coordination.

WolfBrown has complied profiles about community-wide coordination for arts education in their report, Arts and Cultural Education: A Survey of Model Programs. They list a few of the same players from the Wallace report, plus a few new ones, such as Philadelphia, Portland, and Providence.

As our thinking has evolved on this topic, we’ve developed an even more complex way of depicting the various stakeholders in arts education, but more on that in part 2.

I open the discussion to you: the readers, arts education practitioners, and other arts education stakeholders, to answer these questions:

  1. Is this coordinated delivery approach just a trend, or the future for arts education’s survival in communities?
  2. What are you seeing in your community? Is this model replicable in the suburbs? In rural areas?
  3. What other current examples of coordinated delivery exist that weren’t mentioned in any of the above reports?

Let us know in the comments below.

6 responses for It Takes a Village in Arts Education (Part 1)


Kristen Engebretsen says
August 29, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Thanks, Deb, for providing the OR perspective on this. Each of the models listed in the reports (Right-Brain included) is happening in an urban setting. I would love to dig deeper on how this works in suburban and rural settings.

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Kristen Engebretsen says
August 29, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Yes, Mary-Helen. These posts are less about teaching and learning and more about connections, partnerships, resources, etc. However, as you point out, none of this matters if the quality of teaching and learning isn't high.

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November 24, 2012 at 10:46 am

Thanks for the updated post Kristen, and your questions as to the viability of these approaches for the future. To clarify my meaning in my 8/29 comment - I believe that emotional relevance is THE WAY to ensure the survival of arts education.

Why are we in this survival position? I think it's a reflection of where we are as a society, how we've devolved over the past two decades. There are no doubt a number of mitigating factors but I believe the top two are: (1) our acceptance of the cookie-cutter educational standards imposed by bureaucrats (to paraphrase a recent post, why are we accepting educational standards set *and mandated* by non-educators?) which have resulted in a psychological bleaching of our young people (and staggering dropout rates), (2) our culture's lack of attention to our emotional well-being as we've increasingly strived for materialism, and (3)the growing malaise of the human spirit which has been a result of the foregoing.

So, are coordinated delivery systems the answer? They won't get to the root of the problem. What's needed now is for artists of all stripes to realize that we(as a collective and individually) have an essentially important ingredient that is in short supply today - the ability to emotionally connect with others.

That's what we need to actively teach out in our communities, transcending the imposed boundaries of public education. In a way, it's only standing up for what we know is true. And doing this will enliven others to feel and care about and reach out to others, and a revival of sorts can begin to happen. If we pay attention to that, our survival will naturally follow.

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August 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm

If we add the emotional learning component, the integrated community idea works, just as it has since the dawn of man ... otherwise, it's just us human beings trying to think our way out of our box (and even thinking we're outside it!), while we're really still in it.

I advocate for adding the emotional component back into teaching and learning!

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Deb V. says
August 29, 2012 at 11:13 am

1. Critical to survival and to providing a well-rounded arts education experience (imagine the power of our education system if all disciplines adopted this model!)
2. Harder in the suburbs and rural areas. Happening very effectively in the urban part of our state. But as size and capacity go down the further away you go, the ability to effectively mobilize the groups involved also dimisishes.
3. I believe The Right Brain Initiative in Portland, OR is mentioned in one of the reports but here's the link:

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article says
November 24, 2012 at 3:56 am

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on article. Regards

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