Kristen Engebretsen

Introducing…"Encourage Creativity: Teach the Arts"

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen, Feb 13, 2015 0 comments

Kristen Engebretsen

Americans for the Arts (AFTA) believes that the arts are an essential part of preparing students for success in school, work, and life. We provide practical tools, advocacy resources, and research-based publications, such as our Field Guide and Navigator e-book series to help convince leaders of this important role the arts play in student success.

Because we work in the arts, one of most powerful forms of advocacy is using our art forms to communicate. Having artistic and high-quality materials, such as the Field Guide and Navigator e-books, is essential to how valuable these advocacy tools are.

But another principle of good communication and advocacy is to always have effective messaging. In our Facts & Figures e-book, we inform readers that effective messaging must contain both stories and data:

warm and fuzzy anecdote + hard hitting data = effective messaging

AFTA has long had the data for advocates to use, but we needed the stories to accompany it. So in 2014 we embarked on a project to create four distinct videos that would artistically show the important role of the arts in every child’s education. And after an amazing year of production, I'm proud to introduce our Encourage Creativity suite of videos:

These videos are inspirational, visually stunning, and emotionally and intellectually compelling. But while these videos provide the story, you as the advocate will need to provide the context, the data to back up the story, and then an “ask” of your educational leader—ways that they can concretely support arts education in your school or community.

This is why we’ve built an entire suite of tools on the website to accompany the videos. As you can see from the website (, there are lots of features to navigate:

  • We created four videos, knowing that different situations would require a slightly different message. Each video has a short synopsis, runtime, ideas for a target audience, and some ideas for sharing the video.
  • We’ve created one-page flyers with key talking points from the videos that you can print, download, or share as PDFs. We have a separate handout for policymakers, elected officials, funders and business leaders, parents and students, school leaders and principals, and teachers.
  • We've created handy step by step instructions to help you find the right education leaders to share these videos with, and how to prepare for meetings with those leaders.

An advocate could use all of these tools in tandem—one could prepare advocacy talking points via the e-books and then show a video at a meeting with their advocacy target.

If you’ve found your way to this blog, it is safe to say, you’re already an arts advocate. So get creative--watch these videos, share these videos, use these videos in your presentations to help convince others of the importance of arts education.

We hope you find this suite of tools useful. We hope that you’ll feel ownership for these videos and feel free to use the video embed codes, print off the handouts, or leave us a comment below about ways we can support your work as an arts education advocate.

Together, we can spark conversations, create new arts education supporters, and ignite a movement to encourage creativity by teaching the arts!

Editor’s Note: This blog is part of a miniseries about the suite of tools called Encourage Creativity.

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