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The Intersection of Local Businesses, School Districts, & Arts Education

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

I’m a consultant in San Diego who specializes in capacity building for nonprofit arts organizations and the people who run them. I also do a fair amount of work in the realm of arts education, including currently serving as chair of the Arts Education Council at Americans for the Arts and the co-founder and chair of the San Diego Alliance for Arts Education.

It was with my “arts education hat” on that I attended a one-day symposium in San Diego called “Powering Innovation Economies” last week. One of the sessions was about the role of arts education, innovation, and the workforce.

Sarah Murr (my fellow blogger/Boeing’s Global Corporate Citizenship community investor responsible for corporate giving to the arts in Southern California) was invited to be one of the panel members. Murr is well known in Southern California’s arts education community for the huge investment she’s made on Boeing’s behalf in supporting arts education in the Orange County area. She is also an active board member of the California Alliance for Arts Education.

Unfortunately, she was ultimately unable to participate and I got an email asking if I knew of someone in the local corporate community who could take her place.

As I sat there thinking about which local corporations support arts education as part of their community investment policy for strengthening workforce development, I came up empty handed.

I couldn’t name one prominent business in the San Diego County region that has a well known strategy for giving to support creativity and innovation through arts education.

That got me thinking. If you were asked that question, could you identify a business or businesses in your community that could step in and fill Sarah’s shoes?

My desire to find out more about the local scene, caused me to think about how I might survey local businesses and learn more.

Do they believe in the importance of a public education system that encourages creative thinking? Are they willing to support programs or efforts that address the development of a more creative workforce by funding arts education? Would they consider being part of a team comprised of school district administrators and others who are visionary enough to explore re-directing curriculum to that end?

I know there have been studies like Ready to Innovate which examines creativity and innovation from the perspectives of both CEOs and school superintendents, but I want something that takes a sea level approach, rather than a 30,000 ft approach.

As chair of the Arts Education Council, and a local arts education advocate, I’m always focused on what’s happening on the ground in our local arts agencies, arts organizations, advocacy efforts, and the like.

So I wonder, what’s happening in your community to engage local businesses and school districts in the development of curriculum that is more responsive to the creative education needs of our future workforce?

Please post your response in the comments section below. I’d really like to know.

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