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USA: National Arts in Education Week

Posted by Team APATA | Sep 16, 2021

As the week comes to an end, we find inspiration from the USA’s National Arts in Education week, 12-18 September 2021. A time to recognise and share the impact of the transformative power of the arts in education.

Notably, this celebration was designed to bring this cause to the attention of educational decision makers and elected officials, providing a platform for advocacy of arts in education.

Created by America’s leading non-profit organisation for advancing the arts and arts education, Americans for the Arts, and recognised by Congress in 2010, Arts in EducationWeek is a nod to how #ArtsTransform.

Americans for the Arts’ goal is to ensure that the arts always play an important role at the decision table.

We can learn a lot from the advocacy heartbeat of AFTA as American arts education programs experience many of the same issues and concerns as those seen here in Australia and around the world.

  • Lack of funding, lack of support, and lack of visibility.
  • The closing down of music programs, dance programs etc.
  • The removal of permanent performing arts programs and educators in schools.
  • The rising stake of Math and Sciences.
  • Fighting to refocus on STEAM, as opposed to STEM.

The AFTA definition of arts education.

Instruction and programming in all arts disciplines – including but not limited to: dance, music, visual art, theatre, creative writing, media arts, and arts history, criticism and aesthetics. The term is used in its broadest sense, including art-centred and arts-integrated curriculum in both academic and community settings.

Impact of the arts in education.

From our own members in education and industry, we learn how arts education reaches students with different learning styles. That student who may have left school altogether were compelled to stay because of their participation in the arts.

Arts education creates connection, cooperation and curiosity. Most recently of course is the socio-emotional wellbeing and mental health of students engaged in the arts as a positive that cannot be overlooked.

In the report The Arts and Australian Education: Realising potential the paper The Shape of the Australian Curriculum: the Arts, states that:

The Arts have a special relationship with learning, in that the Arts can be learned and can be used as a tool by which to learn about something else. Fully understanding the Arts involves critical and practical study. Through critical and practical study students have the opportunity to explore, experiment, create, analyse and critique, and ultimately discover multiple meanings in artwork.
(Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority, 2010, p. 3)

According to Americans for the Arts, despite the arts being designated a “core academic subject” in the federal legislation No Child Left Behind, arts education still remain elusive to a great number of students across the USA.

  • 66% of public school teachers say that instructional time and resources for subjects such as art and music are declining.
  • 97% of elementary schools nationwide do not offer dance.
  • 96% of elementary schools don’t offer theatre.
  • 88% of secondary schools don’t offer dance as a subject.
  • 56% of secondary schools don’t offer theatre.

The 2020 #BecauseOfArtsEd Chat

Americans for the Arts provides actionable advocacy tips.

This is what AFTA gets so right. 60 years is a long time to gather information, learn from mistakes and work out the best way to share information. Though we are in Australia and we have very different state and federal channels to work within we find this AFTA Getting Started guide an absolute must for those wondering how to create change? How to make an impact and just where to get started? (See pdf below)

October is the USA’s National Arts and Humanities Month

A coast-to-coast collective recognition of the importance of culture in America. So we recommend following along, seeing what works, gather ideas and look at what initiatives could inspire you in your classroom or studio and communities.

Share your Voice with APATA

Our aim here at the Australian Performing Arts Teachers Association [APATA] is to connect teachers and educators with industry as they lead those seeking creative careers. To create a national community to participate, collaborate, connect, and inspire by sharing – ideas, knowledge, experience, expertise and deep insights.

Remember we want you, the performing arts educators and community, to share your voice. Please take the time to complete our Performing Arts Educator Questionnaire. We absolutely need your help in understanding the current direction of performing arts education in Australia.


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