Monday, February 9, 2015

Interview with Jonathan Katz - Part I

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on…………."

Jonathan Katz served as the head of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies for 29 years, and his tenure defined not only that agency, but the whole state arts agency movement.   He stepped down from that post late last year.  He agreed to an interview, and I appreciate his candor and frankness.  I am posting the interview in two parts - today and next week.

I often wish I could do these interviews live, so I could pose follow up questions suggested by the interviewee's initial responses and have that kind of Charlie Rose conversation.

Bio:  Jonathan Katz, Ph.D., served from 1985 through 2014 as CEO of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, the association through which the nation's 56 state and jurisdictional arts agencies share knowledge and strategic thinking, develop leadership and professionalism, and advocate the value of the arts and culture. In that capacity, he co-founded the Arts Education Partnership (, the nation’s coalition of more than 100 organizations for the advancement of learning in the arts, and the Cultural Advocacy Group, which is the forum through which the national cultural service organizations of the United States develop their united federal agenda. Before then, he was awarded tenure as a full professor of public policy and administration at the U. of Illinois at Springfield, where he directed the graduate arts administration program. He has directed the Kansas Arts Commission, The Children's Museum of Denver, and he is proud that his support helped establish Poetry Out Loud, a partnership between the NEA, The Poetry Foundation and the state arts agencies that now engages 365,000 high school students in competitive recitation each year.

Here is Part I of the interview:

Barry:  Looking back on your long tenure at NASAA, what are the major trends in the SAA field that you think have defined that field?  And what do you see will be the future trends that will impact the SAAs?

Jonathan:  I would first observe that the state arts agency movement in the United States is an exceptional and evolving experiment in the exercise of purposeful cultural policy in one big laboratory – the federal government – and 56 diverse but networked laboratories – the state governments. After 1776, it was 122 years before the first state (Utah) established an arts council, and 189 years until the authorization of the NEA.

A key word that defines the field is “purposeful.” Much of public policy making in the U.S. focuses on response to or regulation of purposes coming from the private sector to the exclusion of the identification and implementation of leadership roles for government. Therefore, the most general and significant trend that defines the state arts agency field is the creation of a locus in every state for a public dialogue about what are the most important benefits the arts provide, which benefits government should play a role in providing, and what that role should be.          

The program and service trends that define the state arts agency (SAA) field derive from what an agency of state government devoted to fostering participation in the arts must do in order to maintain sufficient support from government officials and from a community of advocates to compete successfully in the annual legislative budgeting process. The artistic mandate to foster participation is itself complex. One challenge is to broaden experiential access, which is a matter of education, resource distribution, and overcoming a host of societal inequities.  Another challenge is to ensure that the aggregate quality of artistic experience available exemplifies and trends towards the most powerful and valuable level, that which people describe as “excellent,” “transformative,” or, more recently, as putting one “in the flow.”  Understanding these challenges helps to explain why SAA grant making and staffing has trended towards an increasing proportional investment in arts education – school-based, community-based, and the capacity of artists and arts organizations to assist in providing it.  

One governmental imperative for SAAs is to distribute funds and services for arts activities in ways that build broad and enduring political support. General operating support has long distinguished SAAs from other grant makers. More purposefully, every SAA has developed decentralization strategies suited to its unique cultural mix, geography and demography.  These include re-granting systems, local arts agency support, statewide arts education programs, touring and presenting initiatives, as well as programs that spotlight the state’s folk, traditional and ethnic traditions, foster cultural districts and rural arts activity, and identify underserved populations for special attention. Another imperative is to broaden the vocal arts constituency beyond artists and arts organizations. Most notably since the early 1990’s, SAA advocacy has emphasized the public benefits that derive from transformative arts experiences and the activities of arts organizations. Even during the decade following the Mapplethorpe, Serrano and “NEA 4” controversies, state arts agency leaders and advocates doubled their aggregate budgets (growing faster than state government budgets overall) by documenting and promoting the benefits of the arts in terms of the economy, education, tourism, youth at risk and strengthening community life.  SAAs have learned to include elected state officials and their staffs in their planning surveys and listening tours, and to welcome them on their councils.

The foreseeable future for SAAs will be influenced strongly by the two devastating recessions in the first decade of the 21st century; political polarization, a skeptical reappraisal of the roles of government, and loss of public trust in both the public and private sectors; an intense debate on how to improve public education; America’s increasing demographic pluralism; and the continuing effects of the digital revolution on arts participation. To sustain support in their evolving environment, SAAs will need to be competitive in terms of their perceived ability to create jobs and strengthen a state’s economy, develop an agenda that unifies advocacy from a broad artistic and cultural community, demonstrate relevance to a state’s education improvement policy, and maintain a political constituency that crosses party lines.  Advocates will need to be prepared to debate the most fundamental questions about why an SAA is necessary. They will need to engage in this debate at both the federal and state levels, drawing upon the testimony of local partners and stakeholders.  For at least the next few years, it looks like effectively positioning and implementing integration of the arts in creative economy, creative place making, creative aging, military rehabilitation and education improvement strategies will be rewarded.

Barry:  Following up on that question, what do you think are the major accomplishments of NASAA over the past 30 years, and what areas do you regret that you have not been able to address as you might have wished?

Jonathan:  Let’s imagine state arts agencies operating without the association they created to provide themselves with a collective voice and the capacity to learn from each other. NASAA has enabled SAAs to communicate as a field – and to partner in programs – with Congress, with the White House and the federal government, with the NEA, with governors, with state legislatures, and with other cultural constituencies. Over the past 30 years, NASAA has helped establish the federal commitment from the NEA approximating $50 million annually to SAAs that helps sustain both support for the NEA in Congress and support for $250 million - $450 million annually from state legislatures. NASAA has also helped ensure that the benefits of statewide distribution were applied to federal funding programs such as ARRA and Goals 2000.  In the 1970’s, NASAA and the NEA created the National Standard for Arts Information Exchange, which was a pioneering achievement in designing the kind of data collection that would make cultural policy analysis possible – and which still guides baseline public sector grant data collection. NASAA facilitated the use of the SAA grant application process in every state to distribute AIDS awareness information to the cultural community.  Thirty thousand groups, a significant percentage of the universe of arts organizations, participate in that process. Through NASAA, the SAAs were able to partner in coalition with other cultural groups to defend the NEA in Congress from those people critical of its links to the work of Mapplethorpe, Serrano and the “NEA 4.” That National Cultural Alliance evolved into the Cultural Advocacy Group, which continues to serve as the forum through which the national arts service organizations plan and advance a unified agenda for the federal cultural agencies.  Illustrations of how NASAA operates to benefit all SAAs include contributing to the series of National Governors Association issue briefs  on how the arts provide resources to address the most pressing issues facing state executives and working with the National Conference of State Legislatures to conduct focus groups aimed at determining what state officials want to know about the arts and how they want to be provided that information. NASAA also gives SAAs the capacity to collaborate with national partners in ongoing programs such as Poetry Out Loud and the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards.

I have to admit I’m jealous of the opportunities the next NASAA CEO will have to make progress in several areas.  The policy partnership between NASAA and the NEA can be strengthened, especially in the area of arts education. There are new and promising opportunities for NASAA and the NEA to work together with other federal agencies. There’s an openness in communication between NASAA and Grantmakers in the Arts that can be pushed towards more pervasive collaboration between public and private grant makers nationally, and maybe even some programmatic partnership. I think NASAA and its member agencies will be important participants as the national conversation about diversity and equity in arts participation and funding progresses to its next level. I also think that NASAA’s growing expertise with new technologies will lead to new methods of assisting cohorts of states to explore common interests together – such as creative aging, cultural district development, other creative economy initiatives, and collaborations with the military.

Barry:  Certain constituent groups seem to have been a natural fit for NASAA - including state (and city?) advocacy organizations, state arts education groups, and perhaps even state business for the arts groups.  Those have been folded under the AFTA tent over the period.  Do you think that NASAA should have been more aggressive in making those groups part of the NASAA tent?  If not, why not?

Jonathan:  NASAA has the very focused mission of strengthening the state arts agencies.  The state leaders who created NASAA and govern it are also its clients and support its services with their dues. They have been quite clear about their priority needs being knowledge, leadership development, representation and community. They want these needs met in depth and with the necessary frequency that only an association tightly focused on this membership can provide. It’s not a tent designed to fold over other groups except for a few, strategically chosen partnerships. NASAA’s ability to be as effective as it has been on behalf of the state arts agencies in Congress and in its relations with the NEA has a lot to do with staying on point and thoroughly communicating with and through its members.  NASAA’s budget, cash reserve and staff resources are strong, and member satisfaction ratings are all very high.  No members were lost during the two recessions, which is an amazing achievement considering we are talking about state government budgets under huge pressure to cut expenditures.  In fact, members have just set records for individual giving to NASAA, matching a $50,000 challenge grant and exceeding that match the following year without the challenge grant. AFTA’s mission and methods are different, and, consequently, right-sizing means something different to the two organizations. AFTA has numerous member segments and an interest in direct public interface, which differentiate it from NASAA. On AFTA’s Artsblog, Chad Bauman’s bio notes that when he was director of marketing and communications for AFTA he was responsible for promoting more than 480 different programs. NASAA and AFTA are the closest of allies, joining forces in advocacy at the federal level through the Cultural Advocacy Group, where we’ve worked with other groups to determine and manage a unified agenda for the federal cultural agencies, and at the state level through joint meetings of SAALA (State Arts Advocacy League of America) and SAA leaders, where we’ve shared experiences, modeled successes, and are fostering good working relationships between agencies and advocates.  

Barry:  State funding to the SAAs has been a roller coaster ride - often rising and falling with the health of the economy.  Some people have suggested that SAAs may now have less of an impact on their states than they had in the past. What do you think can be done to increase and stabilize SAA funding in the future, and what action needs to be taken to blast the agencies into a more meaningful orbit?

Jonathan:  Let’s take this series of statements and questions piece by piece.

State funding is a roller coaster ride – for most agencies and functions of government in most states. Tax revenues go up and down, often unpredictably, and for many different reasons. One reasonable definition of success is that gains are maximized and sustained, and that losses are minimized and strategically managed.
It’s not irrational to suggest that SAA impact on states is less now because there have been years when SAA aggregate appropriations have been higher; not irrational, but wrong in most cases. The current impact of SAAs, is, I think, in general, far greater in the cultural lives of states now than in the past. Over the years, SAAs have established partnerships within state government and in communities throughout their states that leverage their resources and increase their impact. The arts education programs of SAAs are more integrated now in school systems statewide than ever before.  Their integration in Common Core activities, STEM and 21st Century skill initiatives; their expanded inclusion of students, teachers, teaching artists, parents and other educators over the years; their establishment of statewide programs such as HOT Schools, Whole Schools, A+ Schools and others; the NEA’s longtime support of the professional development of SAA arts education managers; the development of working relationships between the SAA arts education managers and state education agency arts education managers; the research and teaching resources now available online; and the models of mapping access, surveying the quality of teaching resources, and assessment of learning in order to demonstrate an equity case for arts education have all made today’s SAA arts education activities more impactful than in years past.  Among state arts agencies, the expanded knowledge, networking, and communities of practice in creative economy, creative aging, cultural district development, arts and healthcare, cultural tourism and other program areas have also leveraged SAA impact. Within individual states, SAA impact is multiplied by agency partnerships in tourism, youth development, rural community development, transportation, economic development, education and other program areas.  Public value strategies have changed the relationships between SAAs, their grantees, constituents and authorizers, increasing SAA impact. And the more sophisticated knowledge resources available now to SAAs from NASAA, AFTA and other service organizations and websites have also contributed to increasing SAA impact. As Regional Arts Organizations have developed partnerships, tapped resources available to multi-state consortia, and produced programs that take advantage of economies of scale, their member SAAs have gained impact. This all may be differently perceived by specific arts groups who, over time, have not experienced their SAA grants keeping up with inflation.

Increasing and stabilizing agencies generally comes from focusing on the value-building basics:
-- Aligning goals and activities with the priorities of state government and the interests of key decision makers.
-- Fostering a strong advocacy network, building its resources, and developing a good partnership between it and the SAA.
-- Using the planning process and targeted programs to broaden the constituency for the arts to include educators, the travel and tourism professions, the business community, health care and aging industries, the information technology sector, etc.
-- Encouraging collaborations between the public arts agencies and the philanthropic community.
These practices are well known and understood, but they are still challenging to implement strategically, methodically, opportunistically and constantly.  Every program and operational activity of artists, arts organizations, local arts agencies and the SAA has to be perceived and implemented as an advocacy activity.

As we headed deeply into recession a decade ago, I developed a workshop on what it takes to make a quantum leap. One factor is the habit of mind to imagine taking programs to scale. If it costs X dollars to reach one tenth of the students in the state with an arts education activity or Y dollars to provide a performance in 7 cities or Z dollars to prepare and tour an exhibit to 3 venues in 3 counties, how much would it cost to reach every student in the state, 100 cities with a performance each, all 75 counties with the exhibit?  Another habit of mind is imagining the funding or distribution support of a powerful partner or network. Supposing a major corporation decided to support your agency’s new initiative; supposing a foundation or bank or accounting firm decided to sponsor a residency or an arts scholarship or an artist internship with a for-profit in all the communities where it does business? What are the pieces that had to be put into place for a program like Poetry Out Loud to go from zero to 365,000 students annually? Another habit of mind is aligning your mission with the mission of one or more other influential constituencies and targeting a big, collective goal. Think of the Legacy funds in Minnesota and how water resources, hunting and cultural activities became beneficiaries of a constitutional amendment slightly increasing the sales tax. Another habit – not just of mind but of will power as well – is to go through the same process of building the constituency, the relationships with authorizers, and the familiarity of request a thousand times, until the resource environment ripens and everything that didn’t work completely, but which but built your accountability over time, falls into place. Like the magnificent jump in Florida’s arts appropriation for this fiscal year.  The point is that the same play designed to achieve a first down can also be considered as a system and designed for a scenario in which it scores a touchdown. Quantum leaps require imagination, analysis and management.

Barry:  If your successor asked you:  “Where are the danger spots in this job?  What do I need to know to protect both myself and NASAA as I assume the helm?” - what advice would you give him/her?

Jonathan:  NASAA is a national association. Despite technology, there are months between meetings and great distances between members and staff. It is also a network of people who want easy, productive relationships with their authorizers and colleagues. There are always high hopes that the CEO and staff can resolve the problems and conflicts that arise.  So my advice includes:

  • Never forget your influence depends on the capacity and willingness of your leadership and membership to support you. Always cultivate and solidify support internally before taking a position externally.
  • You will accurately perceive a thousand injustices to your field and members; that doesn’t mean they will be grateful for the opportunity to confront either the issues or people involved. If you can’t imagine a clear path to board members taking up leadership and becoming spokespersons on an issue, seriously consider spending your time and energy on something else.
  • Rehearse how you, as CEO, represent yourself and NASAA when you answer the question that you will be asked constantly, “So, what is NASAA up to?” Regardless of what you know, you have to sound like you’re in control. 
  • Learn to identify issues that divide your membership and avoid them whenever possible. 
  • Beware of attractive partnerships; they are always more complex, stressful and time-consuming than can be imagined, even when they are worth it.
  • You will constantly be requested for NASAA to endorse statements and join coalitions. Debating, responding and following through on these can be incredibly time-consuming. Put an expeditious process in place with the board for this that weeds out whatever is not close to mission and worth follow-through. 
  • Don’t assume anyone remembers anything from a previous meeting or previously distributed materials. 
  • There is no such thing as “off the record.” 
  • Practice saying negative things in constructive language.  People remember how you said something and made them feel long after they remember what you said. 

Barry:  Assess the state of professional development for SAA leaders and staffs and what needs to be done to offer all those people meaningful and adequate opportunities to improve their management skills?  What are the biggest needs in the advancement of SAAs management skills training?  And are we attracting the breakthrough thinkers we need to successfully meet the challenges SAAs face?  Should we be looking outside the arts for some of that leadership?

Jonathan:  There are excellent SAA leaders who have not excelled at producing or presenting art, but I think it’s a great advantage for SAA leaders and staffs to have their service informed by that experience. I think skills related to strategic planning, public policy making, systems thinking, problem solving, negotiation, organizational dynamics, and persuasion, as well as fluency with social media and up-to-date understanding of trends affecting participation in the arts are all extremely valuable to someone working for an SAA.

I’m a little unsure of what the questions about attracting “breakthrough thinkers” and looking outside the arts for leadership actually mean. State arts agency innovation in programs, partnerships and operations is continuous, and documented regularly in the “State to State” column in NASAA’s monthly online newsletter. Anyone who questions the creativity with which SAAs are adapting to their environment can go to the online newsletter archives and view the last 75 columns that feature three innovations a month over the past six years, more than 200 examples selected from among many more. This month features three ways state arts agencies and regional arts organizations have harnessed Internet-enabled technology to better serve the arts.   Delaware’s new smartphone app connects artists and audiences statewide, making it easier to browse the state's arts and culture opportunities and to make plans to enjoy them. What's On, available for free on iTunes and Google Play, features an interactive map locating ongoing and upcoming performances, exhibitions, films, concerts and more across Delaware. By tapping event icons on the map, a user immediately accesses links to event websites as well as contact information, driving directions and other useful information. These listings and their logistics also are available in the form of a searchable list.  Pennsylvania’s new website features grantee stories and videos. In addition to a new agency Facebook page, the site features a section entitled “What You Do” that showcases the work of PCA grantees to organize and present diverse arts and culture events. Incorporating its new YouTube channel, PCA features in this section videos telling "Impact Stories" of its Arts in Education grantees and recognizing the "Best of the Best" projects supported by its Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts grants. Through their regional arts organization, the New England Foundation for the Arts, the six New England states have just rolled out CreativeGround a free on-line creative economy directory, featuring 30,000 profiles of cultural nonprofits, creative businesses, and artists of all disciplines and mediums. Designed to meet the needs of the region's artists, arts audiences and arts administrators—as well as non-arts entities like city planners and private developers—CreativeGround allows users to sort profiles through specific combinations of variables such as arts disciplines, services, populations served, languages spoken, institution/business type, venue characteristics and accessibility collaborations, statewide partnerships created between the arts and other constituencies, creative planning methods, peer training and consulting networks, etc. ]  Beyond these examples, I’m aware of a great deal of SAA testing of new methods and new program partners to address the new forms of art and the new business models that artists are  constantly creating. The SAAs in the states of Washington, Colorado and Kansas have even changed their names to represent better their evolving brands and missions.

The question of whether some leadership to meet the challenges SAAs face should come from outside the arts could be understood to ask whether ideas and models from other fields should be considered by arts leaders to identify and solve problems. They should be and are. Diverse professional backgrounds in addition to the arts abound among SAA staff members responsible for communication, operations and financial management, grant processing, information technology, research and evaluation.  In addition, conference speakers and workshop leaders, planning consultants, program partners in many fields such as health care and tourism, grantees, as well as state officials, colleagues in other state agencies, board members of cultural organizations including the regional arts organizations all provide ideas and perspectives from outside the arts. The environmental scanning and problem-solving activities in strategic planning, and program evaluation activities also provide opportunity for drawing upon expertise from outside the arts.

The question could also be understood to ask whether we should hire more people who do not have professional experience in an art form, with an arts group, or in cultural policy.  Many successful SAA EDs – past and currently – have come to their positions from primarily government, academic, or business backgrounds, but they have usually brought with them at least a passionate conviction about the public benefits of the arts, if not actual professional arts credentials.  I haven’t observed them to operate their agencies significantly differently from their colleagues. Knowledge of and experience in some combination of creating, presenting, interpreting and appreciating the arts is such an asset to carrying out so many of the primary tasks for someone in any SAA leadership position that the idea of looking for people from “outside the arts” is more likely to be detrimental than helpful, more likely to lead to disaster than revelatory innovation. Also, I’m wondering what different hiring practice would be useful when it seems that most public arts agencies are currently being informed by leaders with backgrounds that combine professional credentials both in and outside of the arts.  I don’t see a shortage of such people, especially among emerging leaders – who have all sorts of professional experience related to digital technology skills.
Barry:  You’ve also seen many changes over the years at the NEA.  What do you think the NEA could do better?  And how can the relationship between NASAA and the NEA be improved to the benefit of both?  Where in that relationship can collaboration be improved?  You once raised the issue of having more of the NEA funding allocated to the states.  Is that a position (one that is arguably potentially appealing to Congress) NASAA might (or ought to) revisit?

Jonathan:  Let me follow the practice of phrasing everything positively and looking ahead. I think the NEA serves itself and the public well when it creates ongoing conversations and a variety of forums with its constituents – especially those that represent organized and influential cultural networks – for strategic consultation.  That means exchange of perceptions, ideas and information about trends and issues, and exploration of the roles all parties could play, separately and together, to broaden, deepen and diversify participation in the arts.  To facilitate this kind of dialogue – state leadership to federal leadership – is one of the primary reasons that the SAAs created NASAA. I want to be perfectly clear that, being a former CEO, I am not speaking here on behalf of NASAA, but I think that a strategic conversation between NASAA and the NEA on the topic of how best to advance arts education, for instance, could be tremendously beneficial.

Actually, I didn’t raise the issue of having more of the NEA funding allocated to states (from 20% of grant funds at the time).  In the aftermath of the Mapplethorpe, Serrano and “NEA 4” controversies, members of Congress themselves raised the issue and some specifically tested our response to having all of the NEA grant funds go through states – which we immediately and strongly advised against. Ultimately, even though a group of national arts organizations, including NASAA, was asked for input, the decision that Congressional leaders hammered out was part of a suite of changes made quite independently to re-shape NEA operations into what enough members of Congress would consider letting survive. What the press coverage completely missed was that Congress – across party lines – was just as interested in seeing NEA funds broadly distributed among the states as they were concerned about the recurrence of controversies. At the time, if I remember correctly, more than 80 Congressional districts didn’t receive a direct grant from the NEA. That has since been remedied.  Between 1990 and 1997, in addition to  prohibiting the NEA from making general operating and season support grants, and limiting individual grants to only jazz masters, folk and heritage honorees, and literary artists, they added language directing that no state’s grants could exceed 15% of the total, that the National Council would be more geographically representative, that six members of Congress would sit on the National Council without voting rights, and that a lay member would be added to each panel.  In 1990, they increased the SAA portion of NEA grant funds incrementally to reach 27.5% by 1993 and, over several years following, increased that portion to 40%, maintaining 7.5% within that to reach the underserved.

The annual appropriations process usually focuses on budget and the budget committee’s instructions about programs.  Major policy issues are typically taken up during a reauthorization process when everything about how an agency is structured and operates is scrutinized for potential change. Congress considers 40% to states (including their regional consortia) to be the law, to be a vehicle for reaching the underserved, and for ensuring that substantial federal arts funds not only reach all states, but support state priorities as identified by SAA public planning processes. In my personal opinion, given the likely Congressional environment, it will not be in the interest of either the state arts agencies or the NEA to open discussion of any issue as structural as the state percentage in the foreseeable future.

Barry:  NASAA has been a leader in the conducting and provision of useful research for not only its membership but for the field in general.  Which areas of research need more attention and why?

Jonathan:  There are several areas of research in which I am particularly interested because they are necessary to inform rational decisions of two kinds: through what actions can artists and arts organizations most effectively broaden and deepen participation in the arts and through what policy making can public cultural agencies complement and support these efforts.

So I like to see behavioral models of participation put forth and then tested by practitioners and evaluated in practical terms. I follow the line of research influenced by Rand’s A New Framework for Building Participation in the Arts, which suggested the profitability of marketing to several stages of decision making based on people’s backgrounds, their perceptions, practical considerations, and experiences; and I think the kind of research that Alan Brown and Jennifer Novak-Leonard do that links consumer behavior to intrinsic impacts is very rich in implication. This whole area of behavioral research is expanding as cultural agencies all over the world try to put digitally influenced arts experiences – new media, new modes of participation, possible new motivations for engagement, possible new individual and social outcomes -- into contexts amenable to policy goals, grant category design, service programs for the arts field, service programs for the public, and leadership initiatives. Your blog drew attention to the recent NEA report Measuring Cultural Engagement: A Quest for New Terms, Tools, and Techniques.  Connecting cultural policy makers with new knowledge about why, how and with what results people engage in the arts and cultural activities is vital. It will be a major challenge – and should be a priority – for funders and service organizations in our field to work together to invest in, translate and create learning opportunities for this kind of research to inform practical decision making.    

This is going to sound odd, but I wish there were more research or that I knew how to bring together different kinds of research findings that would provide evidence for things that I know are true and say all the time about arts education.  I know that the arts are a symbol system (we can call it sensory imagery) of equal importance to literacy and numeracy. I know that if you don’t include and resource arts education as you do literacy and numeracy that a large portion of the student population will learn much less of all subject matter, and all students will not learn to their potential. But I don’t know what research substantiates this claim.  I know that the competencies of communication and of empathy that are taught in arts classes are vital to the healthy participation of citizens in a democracy, that true democracy and the honoring of diversity begin with the cultivation of each child’s individual voice, but – other than Catterall’s linkage of an arts-rich education with some basic civic behaviors – I don’t know what research substantiates these claims. I know that the problems facing humankind in the near future are of such a complexity and require such a degree of motivation to both engage and change behavior that artistic vision and competencies will be needed to address them in addition to the competencies that the sciences and humanities foster. I’d like to see the public-policy-making, problem-solving and arts education research literatures brought together that substantiate that claim.

And while we’re at it, researchers need to map every state in the country for access to arts education, quality of instruction provided, and grade-level proficiency assessment. That will provide the necessary equity case for arts education.  Of course, research needs to continue on the consequences and costs of providing arts education inequitably, as the NAEP and other assessments have already suggested is currently the case.

Part II - next week.

Have a great week everybody.

Don't Quit