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It Takes a Village in Arts Education (Part 1)

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.

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