You-ve-Cott-Mail-for-Mon-Aug-20–The-tipping-point

Lorna Kneeland on the blog of 4Culture [cultural services agency for King County, WA], 7/30/12
In the past few years, there has been a fair amount of public attention (but not enough) on the dire state and inequity of arts learning for K-12 students. The expectation that arts are an essential aspect to student education has been lost. This year in Seattle, not a single arts organization was deemed qualified for the Families and Education Levy. This is surprising given the great deal of research demonstrating the strong link that arts education has to academic success and social development. Now, let me turn this depressing train of thought around…Despite the cuts, I strongly feel that we are approaching a tipping point that has the possibility of pushing this train in the other direction. Malcolm Gladwell writes in his book The Tipping Point
“… in order to create one contagious movement, you often have to create many small movements first…The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”
Nationally and locally, big and small collaborative movements are happening that are generating momentum to put arts learning back on track. Perhaps the largest local movement on this front is the Seattle K-12 Arts Learning Collaborative. The goal of this citywide effort is that all students in all Seattle Public Schools (SPS) have opportunities to learn through the arts, to succeed in school and in life. The community has come together in a powerful way — driven by the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs and SPS with parents, the funding community and arts leaders such as Arts Corps, ArtsEd Washington, Arts Impact, PONCHO [Patrons of Northwest Civic, Cultural and Charitable Organizations] and Seattle Art Museum leading and owning the charge.
First Online With Fran: The First 100 Stories Campaign National Arts in Education Week, September 11-17


In July 2010, Congress designated the second week of September as National Arts In Education Week (add link) to promote and showcase the immense role arts education has in producing engaged, successful, and college and career-ready students. To that end, First Online with Fran is launching The First 100 Stories Campaign.

The Arts continue to be cut from school curriculums across the nation. Despite arts advocacy groups’ efforts to prevent the decline of arts inclusion, the budgetary solution remains to be that the arts are perceived as extra-curricular and disposable. In Chris Cleave’s novel Little Bee, the central character decided to right a wrong by collecting stories: “One story makes you weak. But as soon as we have one-hundred stories, you will be strong.” Similarly, we can do the same for the Arts. Here’s how: 

Let’s hear it from you: Teachers! Students! Graduates! Parents! Artists!
Fill out the form to submit your testimonial!

The First 100 Stories

Testimonial #11:  Ronni Hubbard

How has your life been indelibly touched by a teacher who utilized the arts for whatever reason and acknowledge how they were instrumental in breaking the mold to allow you to become who you are today?

In high school I was a chameleon. I would mold into whatever I felt would make me more interesting and likeable. I had no passion , goals or dreams. I went with the flow . . . until I discovered theatre. I took theatre just because I thought it would be fun and easy. It was fun and easy; again I went with the flow, never giving it my all or trying very hard . A circumstance happened that would change my life and path forever. The class was putting on a production of “Vanities”;  one of the leads in the 3 person play was unable to perform. The play opened in less than a week and I was asked to step in and perform. I was told by my teacher I could do it; she had faith in me. She worked with me right up until opening night . She believed in me like no one ever had. She told me I had talent. I actually believe her. I stood on the stage opening night, listening to the applause and had a feeling like no other . My teacher told me I needed to keep going with this. I was different. Again, I believed her. I had all intentions of going to a NY state school, playing a sport I had been given a scholarship for and majoring in ummmmmm “NO CLUE”. I decided just for the heck of it I would audition for a theatre school . This amazing teacher helped me pick out monologues, work on the monologues, pick a song and gave me the self confidence to go and audition for a top theatre school. Every student auditioning was from performing arts high schools. Every student had a resume that had numerous productions. I had 1 show and no training but I had a little voice that said, ” I was different.” I got in and graduated with my BFA in Theatre arts from The University Of The Arts in Philadelphia. I am a 42 year old woman today that is not currently participating in the theatre; however my experience with the arts has changed me, gave me a self confidence, a voice, an identity and made me into the best version of me . I know I will participate again one day in theatre . I know this because a wise teacher told me ” I was different and I could do anything I put my mind to.” This amazing woman, teacher, was Frances McGarry.

Testimonial #10: Holly Stanford, Theater Education Practitioner

How has your life been indelibly touched by a teacher who utilized the arts for whatever reason and acknowledge how they were instrumental in breaking the mold to allow you to become who you are today?

I was greatly influenced by an English teacher in my high school. She took on the school drama club andinvested 100% of herself into the process, allowing herself to make discoveries along with us, and treating theatre as a mechanism for not only learning, but for us to discover confidence and self-worth.

Before I became involved in the arts, I was a shell of myself- introverted andlacking confidence emotionally and socially. This teacher witnessed my demeanorchange as I threw myself into the roles I played and encouraged me to stay withthe arts- that I “could be a pro”. Now, although I have not become afully-fledged professional in theatre, her vote of confidence in my abilitiesdrove me to study the art intensively in college and then in graduate schoolwhere I trained to teach students, and to encourage them the same way I had.

It only took one teacher’s use of the arts to change the entire trajectory ofmy life, and I am so glad she did. I have met so many more amazing teachers andprofessors of theatre since then, and have learned more from my involvement inthe arts than in any other school of thought.

How are the artsre-igniting your community and sparking innovation and creativity in your localschools?

When I came home on a summerbreak from graduate school in New York City I worked tirelessly to give high school studentsacross the region the same option that younger students had. It was unfortunatethat at 14 or 15, you aged out of the arts- I remember feeling so sad after myfinal year of the children’s theatre group. After developing a pilot programover a few months prior to summer 2011, and working alongside a localprevention agency known as Mountain View Prevention Service, Inc., we had aplan, the funding and a cast of students from seven area high schools.

Every part of this summer production was like magic- the students were excited,hard working and wonderful, and the great network of local organizations thatprovided both financial and moral support was heart-warming. I am so glad thatthere has been a growing appreciation for the arts in our community since thissummer. Students who lacked confidence in their own school productions wereable to shine for the first time. I recently revisited one of the participatingschools and many of the students who had participated in the summer programwere up on stage again! It’s amazing to witness their growing confidence andthe willingness of educators in the school to support the arts, and the desiresof students to be involved in theatre.

I do hope that the high school program pilot I worked to create will be offeredagain for future seasons. The program is wonderful for students, especiallyteenagers to have a positive and constructive activity to commit to whileschool is out of session. It is also my desire for area schools to consider thevalue of theatre alongside other art forms in their school budget- if moreschools could offer not only plays, but holistic theatre education for students;I feel that it could only further enhance the student experience both sociallyand academically. Theatre teaches valuable and realistic lessons incommunication, dealing with various types of personalities, working on abudget, how to lead and follow in group situations, learning how to deal withthe hand you were dealt, and good old fashioned hard work and how it willeventually lead to something great.

With an ever changing society, isn’t it important for us to instill these veryimportant lessons into our youth? Theatre is so much more than anextra-curricular activity. I would not be the same without it, and the teens inour community are begging for the chance to be a part of something so muchgreater than test scores and the occasional school play.

Testimonial #9: Chelsea Hoffman

How has your life been indelibly touched by a teacher who utilized the arts for whatever reason and acknowledge how they were instrumental in breaking the mold to allow you to become who you are today?

Photo by the lovely Shannon Davies

My life has been shaped by many teachers, all of whom left an indelible impression on my life. I remember one of my first acting lessons came from sitting in on Dr. McGarry’s class – I couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7 years old. The students, all in High School, were playing an improv game that I was allowed to join in on, and the scene I was given was a driver that was pulled over by a policeman. At that age, I was prone to fits of giggles whenever in the presence of an older and therefore obviously cooler kid (luckily I grew out of it!) and couldn’t stop giggling. Dr. McGarry told me to think about the relationship and the situation – if a policeman pulled me over, would I really giggle? Probably not – I would be terrified! This small but valuable lesson has stuck with me, along with countless others in my time in both public school and then later Drama School at NYU’S Tisch School of the Arts

How are the artsre-igniting your community and sparking innovation and creativity in your localschools?

 The Arts are so incrediblyimportant to our children and our schools. I currently live abroad, and peopleare always shocked and jealous when I tell them that I was able to studycontemporary drama, Shakespeare, jazz, electronic music, and audio engineeringall in my public school. Here, if a child wants to pursue ant of those things,it has to be done on their own time.

What many people don’trealize is how applicable skills gained in the arts are to jobs outside theaccepted creative field. Besides the obvious connection between drama andpublic speaking – think how often people are asked to give presentations in ALLwalks of life, and how dull they can be if the person has no sense of audience- the arts teach problem solving, critical thinking, and gives tools on how toengage an audience. These are things that any businessperson would be well offto have in their repertoire. Music has been shown to improve math ability, anddancing is a great way for the kid who may not be into competitive sports tostay fit. To use a terrible clichéd expression, if one thinks outside the boxjust a little one can see that the arts benefit students beyond making themmore cultured and sensitive individuals (traits that should not be overlooked).We are so lucky in our country to have the opportunity and the precedence tooffer education like this – we must take advantage of it.

Photo by the lovelyShannon Davies

Testimonial #8: Theresa Salerno

How has your life been indelibly touched by a teacher who utilized the arts for whatever reason and acknowledge how they were instrumental in breaking the mold to allow you to become who you are today?

The arts, to me, growing up was my savior. Being able to perform and take myself out of my world to be in another was life saving to me. I enjoyed so much all of my school musicals. I also enjoyed the flute, marching at Hofstra with my sax, and my weekly piano lessons. I truly feel without my music and performing I would have never made it. As you read along your notes on a page you are instantly into the magic of the arts.

I also feel that music will heal you. To this day, I am thankful that I was able to enjoy and appreciate the gift of music .With this blog you can make a difference and leave your foot print on this earth to let people know that there is hope. Many kids today don’t have an out. Music and performing must go on!!!! Maybe it will help them to escape from the real world for a little and have fun exploring another.