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Arts Education Advocacy Success in Sunny San Diego

Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

For those of you who were able to attend our local arts education advocacy session at the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention, you know all about the work of the San Diego Alliance for Arts Education.

For those that couldn’t make it to San Diego a few weeks ago, the Alliance was created as part of a statewide effort by the California Alliance for Arts Education to launch local advocacy groups.

Led by Americans for the Arts’ Arts Education Council Chair Victoria Plettner-Saunders, the group has recently been attempting to restore funding to the San Diego Unified School District’s (SDUSD) Visual and Performing Arts Department (VAPA). (You can read more about their efforts in an earlier post from ARTSblog or by purchasing our full slate of sessions on our Convention On-Demand site and viewing the local arts education advocacy session).

On June 21, all of their relationship-building and advocacy efforts led to a unanimous vote by the board of education that restored full funding to arts education programs for the 2011-2012 school year.

The money restored for the program came about in an interesting way as the district is using cost savings from a recently-expanded photovoltaic project, and other resources, to restore $1.5 million for VAPA. The funding helps to secure 35 positions, primarily itinerant music instructors, in elementary schools as well as two classroom music teachers who were laid off due to the elimination of magnet school funding.

All of this could not have happened without the relationship-building that the local Alliance had undertaken – particularly with Board Member Scott Barnett, who worked diligently in the final days to identify the new revenue source for VAPA.

Despite the fact that Barnett is the former President of the San Diego County Taxpayers’ Association, advocates got to know him and found that he believes that arts education is a valuable use of taxpayer funds. Since his election in November 2010, he has actively worked to support arts education in the district. For this vote, Barnett, a Republican, was joined by the four other Board members, all Democrats, in supporting his fiscal solution to cuts in arts education proposed by the District administration.

Congrats on a job well done!

*Information in this post was provided via press release from the San Diego Alliance for Arts Education.

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