On December 9, 2021 the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Commission on the Arts, stated their case in a Congressional Briefing to two architects of the Arts Education for All Act (HR5581), Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR1) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME1). During the briefing members of the Commission, including Co-Chairs John Lithgow (Actor), Deborah Rutter (The Kennedy Center), and Natasha Trethewey (Professor and Poet) presented their findings from their report released this past summer, Art for Life’s Sake.
The Regional Arts & Culture Council has endorsed the Arts Education for All Act, along with hundreds of other arts organizations across the country and 31 current House Members including, Oregon’s Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR3). Click here if you would like to join us in support of HR5581.
During the hearing, an arts education partner Paul S Sznewajs, Executive Director from Ingenuity-Chicago, spoke to the importance of data to address inequity in arts education. Locally in Multnomah County, we have partnered with Portland Public School and Parkrose to gather real-time data on the state of the arts in our schools through our online platform artlook® with our partners, the Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child program and Ingenuity-Chicago. The data available to the districts can demonstrate the gaps in arts education in our schools, as well as highlight our successes.
These data points better inform and guide districts to address shortcomings and establish strong community relationships with arts organizations across the city. We know arts not only provide a skill set that is critical in our creative economy but the arts help heal, connect, build relationships and can help move us forward out of trauma. We know having a robust well-rounded education, which includes the arts, keep kids in school, exposes us to diverse cultures, teaches empathy and compassion, expands our knowledge, encourages us to think critically, participate in civic engagement, and most importantly, bring us joy. Chanda Evans, who leads the Arts Education Program, at RACC was able to ask the question— “How can parents become more involved?” Congresswoman Bonamici replied “…Telling stories. It really makes a difference. When we talk about policy in the abstract, it is not nearly as compelling as telling a story about a child who benefited from arts education…” Our recent interview with the Congresswoman on November 5, 2021 also highlights the need for telling our personal stories on the impact of an art education in our lives.
This act of storytelling resonates with RACC and we ask you to share your arts education stories with us. We all have that one teacher who made all the difference. They may have been a librarian who said to you, “Wow, you read a lot, have you thought about writing?” The science instructor, who noticed you had a knack for constructing robotics, suggested you might enjoy stop animation. Maybe you seemed bored and did not participate in class and your teacher said, “Hey, why don’t you think about band?” Arts education that is infused in our lives through a well-rounded education connects us to the world around us, enables us to thrive and survive and makes us better humans.
What can you do? Endorse the act as an individual or organization. Share your stories with RACC. Don’t forget to pay your Arts Education and Income Tax Fund (AEAF) of $35 by April 15th if you are a resident of Portland, which puts k-5 arts educators in the classrooms of 6 districts. They include Centennial, David Douglas, Park Rose, Portland Public, Reynolds, and Riverdale School Districts. We thank you.
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