Art Outreach Programs Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1808 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Art  (general)

Art Outreach Programs

It is an unfortunate circumstance that the government is often designated as the major funding patron of the arts in the United States. In times of fiscal crisis and/or republican presidencies, funding for the arts finds itself in very tenuous situations. Likewise with public education, often the first budget cut is in the arts department. It is often difficult for bureaucrats and politicians to see the true value of art on the balance sheet. Drawing "pretty pictures" is often taken lightly and of no consequence when it comes to the three R's that concern higher education, Reading Writing and Arithmetic. Although the acronym itself does show some artistic/poetic creativity, that value is often under-encouraged both in the curriculum and on the budget line. This direct line mindset coupled with a misunderstanding of what an arts education can contribute to all students has directly led to the limiting of arts programs in many schools today. This condition has not improved over the past decade and many schools have little or no arts curriculum for early childhood education.

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However, the need for art creates many advocates; even the government itself has studied the effect of art on student development and has found many surprises. To try and emphasize the importance of an Arts education, the Arkansas River Valley Arts Education Center has pooled together several government studies that elucidate this point. Two studies in particular, "Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning, Arts Education Partnership, President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, 1999 and the Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, U.S. Dept. Of Labor, 1991, both show come enlightening facts about an arts curriculum:

TOPIC: Term Paper on Art Outreach Programs Assignment

For young people at risk of delinquency, school failure, substance abuse, teen pregnancy and other problems, involvement in the arts can improve academic performance, reduce school truancy, provide positive outlets and build new skills that give kids a chance at a better life. Arts programs are an effective intervention strategy for troubled youth who have failed to respond to more traditional educational and social service programs. Arts learning experiences can alter the attitudes young people have about themselves and toward learning, even among those who have had serious brushes with the law. (Importance of Art)

Whether the student pursues art as a career, the exposure to art and other creative concepts adds a depth to his or her experience that is essential to any well rounded education. Art education opens up certain area of thinking that is often not usually accessible under the standard curriculum of educational techniques. Sections of the brain are activated during these activities that quite often do not get much exercise in the world of the three R's. Either in self-reflection or self-expression, art is a major resource that is being poorly utilized in education at this time. A quick snapshot of the rising rate of crime and recidivism among juveniles is one of the obvious results of this.

Although always in trouble, the crisis in art funding has been slowly building over the past decade. In 2006 Alma Robinson, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, had this to say in her article "Renaissance in Arts Funding Needed, "Organizations struggling with budget deficits, revolving-door staff turnovers and volunteers in leadership positions that were formerly paid are hardly the most competitive applicants in a process emphasizing national excellence." (Robinson) it is very true that quite often many school systems as well as other non-profit board of directors are composed of volunteers that come from various disciplines. They often have little time to actually devote to the job at hand and also often have only financial backgrounds to guide them. This certainly presents a very weak front for championing the more creative aspects of a well rounded education. Under this system, art often becomes a very low priority. The effort it takes to create and sustain an arts program if often beyond the ken of this group.

However, some school systems have taken the lead in attempting to organize national support for the arts in education. One effort in particular stands out as an excellent example of this:

As part of Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's Chairman's initiative, "The Arts: A Lifetime of Learning," the Education Commission of the States has developed an interactive database for arts in education policies for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. (Walker 2)

This database called Artscan was created as a resource not only for educators and students but policymakers and other advocates. This database gives access to as much information that is currently available in order to increase the ability of their schools to participate and benefit from programs in the arts. This database not only has funding opportunities and lobbying events in its database, but also can put schools in touch with teachers that are certified in the Arts education in order to help them meet the requirements of funding their arts program. Many programs can only be put in place with qualified staff in order to receive funding dollars. The Artscan database is available on the ECS Web site at http://www.ecs.org/Artscan.It is extremely easy to use and accessible to anyone. (Walker)

Grassroots efforts such as these are one of the primary driving forces of art outreach programs. These outreach programs have become an important secondary line of defense for many schools that do not have sufficient internal programs of their own. California is certainly a state that has felt the art crunch over the past several years. Initially, their budget for the Arts in 2000 was $32 million, but dropped to a paltry $1.1 million in 2007. (Robinson) Fortunately, the Monterey Museum of Arts sponsors excellent examples of an outreach program. In fact, they facilitate three:

Museum on Wheels (MOW) is a comprehensive multicultural folk art education program that serves grades K-8. The collection of folk art travels to schools in a 2-foot truck that's decorated with colorful depictions of objects from the exhibition on its sides.

Folk Art Kits developed as educational resources to complement the MOW school program and to be used by teachers independently. The [kits] are large footlockers that provide artifacts for display as well as books, videotapes, audio tapes and a teacher's guide with lesson plans which can be used in conjunction with the classroom curriculum.

Creative Response (CR) is an art appreciation program that is an introduction to the history of painting. It is designed to be a foundation upon which classroom teachers can build and continue to explore art with their students. (Still 37)

In Illinois, an art outreach program developed there is more than just a learning experience about painting and techniques. One of the teachers in the program sees a larger picture, "It's an outlet for these children for self-esteem and self- expression," teacher Lisa Lucchese explains. "Art is another language to express themselves when they might not have the words.' " (Art Program Promotes Self-Esteem 1) Lucchese went on to say that her students learn much more than just how to make a "pretty picture," they also learn techniques in problem solving and other important skills. Art projects typically have multiple steps and many different considerations to contend with, these options give children a chance to use sequential and critical thinking in a very creative manner. These techniques can then later by transferred to almost any real life decision making process and are useful in many other educational disciplines, such as college term papers, etc.. By using the creative side of the brain these children are not only more prepared for challenges in the future but they are given a different perspective on life. This perspective, at least according to the government surveys, allows for a more expanded concept of life and living.

In this sense, the arts do so much more than teach drawing skills and eye hand coordination, they promote advanced levels of thinking and reasoning as well as excellent visualization techniques that can be used on many levels. And to show that not all government officials are anti-art:

Former U.S. attorney general Janet Reno said much the same thing, "Young people who are involved in making something beautiful today are less likely to turn to acts of violence and destruction tomorrow." We all need to support the arts. In doing so, we are telling America's youth that we believe in them and value what they can be." (Importance of Art)

Outreach programs have also had their share of detractors and nay-sayers as well. Many who hold art in high esteem believe these outreach programs are of poor quality and offer very little in the way of actual artistic benefit, claiming that there is a loss of refinement and actual artistic craft:

Although some have argued that public art outreach efforts diminish artistic excellence, others have argued that too little has been done, particularly to reach the sizeable group of Americans who are "cultural dropouts" -- those who have no creative or expressive pastimes, enjoy… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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