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We All Agree, But Are We Effective?

Stephanie Riven

We, the arts community, agree that arts learning improves academic performance, increases lifelong learning skills and often helps students at risk of failure engage in school.

We can point to the children. We can point to classrooms and to certain districts. We see their success.

In our arsenal of facts and arguments, we have key messages, data, research, policy briefs, examples of districts that have made progress, and a very effective lobbying effort in Washington.

We know the public agrees, too. After all, 91 percent of voters indicate that the arts are essential to building capacities of imagination.

But our message continues to become lost in translation where math, reading, and science are seen as the only subjects worthy of significant support.

With continuing budget cuts, the arts are further and further away from being seen by policymakers and politicians as a way to enhance learning in the classroom and future learning and success in life.

Yes, we agree and we have the evidence, but we are talking to ourselves.

We need to do what we would tell our kids to do: Be Louder, Bolder, Together.

Can we stop talking to ourselves and communicate our message through what we know best?

Yes, we can use this moment to take the arts to a more visible and emotional level!

Let’s sing, dance, act, paint, write, and recite.

Let’s coordinate our efforts and deliver our art forms simultaneously in the form of multiple flash mobs and community wide music and arts events delivered in creative and compelling ways.

We need to be “out there” at sporting events, busy downtown cities, suburban malls, and schools across the country.

Let’s bring our voices to the streets, while also showing our support online.

Let’s enact change in our communities by moving people to think differently about the importance of the arts and the changes needed in arts education policy across America.

Imagine the impact we could have if we coordinated our efforts around something like the Creative Conversation platform. This could increase broad-based support and boost our visibility efforts.

Since Americans for the Arts started Creative Conversations in 2004, the program has grown to over 50 communities and about 2000 individuals each year.

And this year, Creative Conversations is expanding its reach to encourage individuals, organizations, and networks of all types, which makes it a perfect avenue to engage your community around a cultural topic or issue of local importance.

So in honor of National Arts and Humanities Month, I urge the arts community to plan, pilot, or participate in an event. Let’s aim to engage the majority of Americans in simultaneously dancing or singing in the streets on one specified day in October.

It may take a year of organizing, marketing, and networking to gather broad support, but let’s join together in building local awareness around the country in order to amplify our advocacy efforts and increase the possibility of change.

If you are as excited as I am to participate in a louder, bolder community event, then visit the Creative Conversations page. And, get your dancin’ shoes ready…

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