The DC Collaborative held an Arts Education Advocacy 101 workshop at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in partnership with the Americans for the Arts on March 27. Member organizations and their supporters made their case for investing in arts and humanities learning. At a time when many arts education programs are struggling to raise resources, too many policy makers and decision makers outside our field are not aware of the value of arts and humanities education.
"The positive impact of arts education on young people is significant yet there continues to be a lack of committed resources. We need to advocate, broaden support and raise awareness," said Dorothy McSweeny, Chair of the MidAtlantic Arts Foundation, who shared remarks on the history of arts education advocacy in the US and DC over the last few decades.
"Legislators and budget makers need to know the impact of art education, especially for children who come from low-income house-holds," said Maureen Dwyer, Executive Director of Sitar Arts Center, who shared images and stories about the transformative power of arts education she witnesses each day.
"Arts are fundamental to a child's learning," shared Charlotte Cameron Marshall, on the Board of Directors of the Washington Performing Arts Society, adding that there is a need for easy-to-use messages and information. She posed the question "How can advocacy for arts education be more accessible?" and outlined some Three-minute Advocate steps that a cultural organization's supporters, such as Women's Committee members, can readily take. Suggested action steps included using social media to spread the word, signing up for newsletters such as AFTA's Arts Action Fund bulletins, and signing petitions that call for support for arts education.
Kristen Engrebretsen of the Americans for the Arts facilitated the workshop "Building Blocks for Arts Education Advocacy: Learn, Practice, Act" wherein groups worked on their messages and shared them with the larger group. Gladstone Peyton, Director of Federal Policy at AFTA, outlined activities for Arts Advocacy Day on the Hill April 16 and 17.
The workshop was a wonderful way to celebrate Arts Education Month (also known as Youth Art Month, Music in Our Schools Month, and Theatre in Our Schools Month).