Chairman's Corner: August 6, 2020

Jo Reed: I'm Josephine Reed from the National Endowment for the Arts with The Chairman's Corner, a weekly podcast with Mary Anne Carter, Chairman of the Arts Endowment. This is where we'll discuss issues of importance to the arts community and a whole lot more.

Mary Anne, one thing we haven't talked about yet is arts education and not only is that a significant piece of the work we do at the Arts Endowment, but I know it's also particularly dear to your heart.

Mary Anne Carter:  That's right Jo, it is.  I talk about arts education and how it has affected my daughter a lot when I'm giving talks.  As we say the National Endowment for the Arts envisions a nation where every student is engaged and empowered through an arts education.

Jo Reed:  Some listeners might not be familiar with the Arts Endowment's Arts Education Program.  Can you walk us through some of its components?

Mary Anne Carter:  Of course.  One is funding, for fiscal year 2020 the agency awarded 5.7 million in grants that focused on pre-K to 12th grade students, the educators and artists who support them and the school and community systems that serve them.  Students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and students of color are more likely to attend schools without arts education programs, so I'm really proud that more than 77 percent of our arts education projects directly engage underserved populations.  And we've published research reports about the value and impact of an arts education as well as funding a number of National Endowment for the Arts research labs that study arts education.  For example, the lab at the University of California San Diego is establishing early academic readiness and learning intervention studies to test the influence of school day musical interventions on early childhood development.  And we're also investing in partnerships with federal and non-federal organizations which not only extend the research of our work but also supports the arts education ecosystem across the country.

Jo Reed:  Well I know that the Arts Endowment has had a quarter century partnership with the Department of Education, what does that entail exactly?

Mary Anne Carter:  The Arts Education Partnership or AEP as we call it is a collaboration between the Arts Endowment and the U.S. Department of Education.  AEP is the nation's hub for arts and education leaders providing them with research, reports, convenings and counsel.  It's managed by the Education Commission of the States or ECS, you know, we're government so we like our acronyms.  ECS is an organization that serves state policy makers with the knowledge and experience to create effective education policy.  ECS is also our partner in the development of an exciting new arts education data toolkit that launches today by the way, August 6th and we hope this toolkit will bring the country closer to realizing the vision of every student regardless of where they go to school making sure they receive an arts education.

Jo Reed:  I would have thought the states already would have collected data about arts education.

Mary Anne Carter:  You're right they do, but that data hasn't translated into widely available information on how many American children lack access to an arts education.  For every story we hear of how a class in the arts has changed someone's life and set them on a creative meaningful professional path, there are countless stories of young people who have never had that opportunity to make or study arts in our schools.  So this better data can bring all these stories to light and thus help us address critical gaps in opportunity.  And specifically better data can help policy makers study the impact of education policies, help parents identify schools whose arts offerings suit their children's needs and interests and/or help educators bring the arts to all children.  This toolkit could hardly be timelier, we all urgently need data to address both structural inequities and Covid-19's impact on students' participation in arts education.  And so I'm thrilled that this data kit will help communities ensure that arts are part of their plans for reopening, rebuilding and recovery.

Jo Reed:  Mary Anne, thank you.  I'll talk to you next week.

Mary Anne Carter:  Thank you, Jo.

Jo Reed:  That was Mary Anne Carter Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information about the toolkit—check out today’s art works blog at arts.gov and check out the work the arts endowment is doing in partnership with the Dept of Education through the  Arts Education Partnership or AEP at aep-arts.org

I’m Josephine Reed. Stay safe and thanks for listening.

Music Credit: “Renewal” composed and performed by Doug Smith from the cd The Collection.

The chairman talks about the various ways the Arts Endowment supports arts education.