published Friday, September 14th, 2012

Chattanooga forum focuses on viability of arts


• 7:30-8:30 a.m. -- Continental breakfast; Ballroom foyer

• 8:30-9:45 a.m. -- Overview of the day: Sandra Ruppert, director, Arts Education Partnership; Ballrooms A & B

Student performance: McCallie Guitar Quartet, McCallie School; Ballrooms A & B

Presentation of Young Artist Award Winner: Ballrooms A & B

• 10-11:30 a.m. -- Morning plenary session: "What's Going On? Addressing Social Issues like Bullying through Arts and Literacy"; Ballrooms A & B

• 11-11:45 a.m. -- Lunch

• 11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. -- Breakout Session 3: "Arts and Afterschool: A Powerful Combination"; Roberts Room

"Coalition Building for Effective Arts Education Policy"; Walker Room

"Developing an Arts Leadership Institute for Your Community"; Rose Room

• 1:30-3 p.m. -- Breakout Session 4: "Artful Connections with Math: Developed by Artists, Driven by Data"; Kelley Room

"Building Up STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math)"; Ballroom C

"'Drawing' Together: Arts Disciplines in an Innovative Student-Driven Learning Opportunity"; Walker Room

Middle School Innovators Academy: "Developing Creative Talent for Regional Competitiveness"; Rose Room

"Writing Curriculum That's Kryptonite to Summer Learning Loss"; Roberts Room

• 3:30- 5 p.m. -- Closing plenary session: "Healthy Partners: Why the Arts Matter to Medicine"; Ballrooms A & B

Could a viable society ever exist without artists?

Though that may be an unrealistic scenario, national arts experts in Chattanooga this week say the decreased presence of arts education may have far-reaching effects.

"Because of the diminution of art education that started about 40 years ago, we are now dealing with a generation of young people whose parents and teachers are also likely not to have had a solid arts education," said Rocco Landesman, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, in town for Arts Education Partnership's Fall 2012 National Forum.

Continuing today at The Chattanoogan, the forum has brought together educators and community leaders who hope to answer some questions surrounding where to go with arts education and discuss ways to expand education from the elementary level through higher education.

Based on research, millions of students will not have any arts education, said Sandra Ruppert, director of the Arts Education Partnership.

"We know that over 1 million elementary school students receive no specific instruction in music," Ruppert said Thursday. "Over 4 million elementary school students receive no specific instruction in visual arts. Literally millions of elementary school students will receive little access to dance and theater education."

Landesman, who has led the NEA in 2009, spent the past three years traveling around the United States, studying the state of arts education in public schools. Growing up, it was assumed that all students would have some sort of arts education, he said, but he found this was no longer true.

But there are obvious results at schools where arts are integrated into day-to-day activities, he said.

At a New Orleans high school, students are greeted every morning by the principal playing a Fats Domino song on bass guitar. Landesman said the students seemed happier and more excited to be at school.

He also noted a study that showed poor children who studied art outperformed the national average grade point average -- a rarity, he said.

"Too many of us are fighting incrementally -- aiming for the arts to be allowed to creep back quietly and unnoticed into one small corner of the school we work in. Too often, we set our expectations low, and even then, fall short," said Landesman, who gave the opening address at the forum.

Arts education needs to move to the forefront, he said, and model itself after other subjects by adding a core curriculum and standards.

Lori Snyder, senior manager of performing and visual arts magnet schools at Anne Arundel County Public Schools in Annapolis, Md., said Landesman was saying the right things. She and others from her district came to share ideas and get feedback about the ways Anne Arundel County is integrating art into its schools.

The county has visual arts and performing programs in two middle schools and the high school that include student orchestras, theater classes that tackle Shakespeare and field trips to museums and other performing arts centers.

Scott Rosenow, the magnet, technology and arts education facilitator at Battle Academy in Chattanooga, said having the national forum in Chattanooga was beneficial to arts education in the area.

"As an employee of a school, there's very little opportunity to travel to an event like this," Rosenow said. "And it also lets the community know how important it is for us to consider arts education."

about Rachel Bunn...

Rachel Bunn is originally from Ellijay, Ga., and graduated from the University of Georgia with degrees in magazines and history. While at UGA, she wrote for the student magazine UGAzine, served as news editor for the student newspaper, The Red & Black, and spent a semester studying British history at Oxford University in Oxford, England. She has previously worked at The Rockdale Citizen in Conyers, Ga., and The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the ...

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