Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Growing Support for the Arts

Last year was a difficult year for my school district. We lost a lot of funding, the budget didn't pass, and the governor was sending a very anti-schools message to the community.  Our state was (and still is) in financial despair, leaving state jobs at risk.  We already had two Related Arts members retire and their jobs were replaced with part timers instead of full timers. The Spanish teacher's job almost disappeared, and my job was at risk of turning into teaching at two buildings when the art teacher at the primary school retired. Things were not looking in the "glass is half full" direction. So my team went into proactive mode.

We tried to shine positive light on the arts, and educate the public on the value of arts education.  If people know how valuable art education is, and the wonderful things that happen in the Related Arts classrooms, then why would they want to get rid of it? Right? This way, when cuts come down the chain, maybe they would look elsewhere.

We began a newsletter to the community. Each member of the team wrote articles about the value of our program, helpful tips for parents, things that were amazing that we were working on, fun facts for the subject areas (like Van Gogh's birthday!) and took lots of pictures of what we were doing with the kids.

The articles were worked on in Microsoft Publisher, and turned into PDF files. It was laid out then to look like a magasine, with a table of contents and all.  We delivered it in a few ways to the community. First, through the Honeywell instant alert system to go directly to the parent emails on file.  Second, posted on our e-boards and the main school website.  Lastly, delivery through photocopying and sending it to a senior citizen's center for the seniors in our community to read. They are after all, important voters who still pay taxes! Many still want to be involved in our districts!

The feedback was overwhelming. We had parents emailing us how nice it was to hear what was happening in our classrooms, as they have a hard time making time to see us. We had the Superintendent write a nice letter to us for being so proactive and driven. Our principal was excited that we were shining positive light on our school and ourselves. It was all around great! So wonderful in fact, that we're in the middle of making our fall/winter edition for this years newsletter.

Other growing support for the arts ideas include:
Board of Ed Bulletin Board
  • Family Night Out Arts Night
  • Newsletters
  • Art Show in Community Store Window Fronts
  • Make a Mural in town
  • Get positive light in the town newspaper!
  • Display art in the Board of Ed
  • Charity Art:  Hospitals and Senior Centers using your art club or art class (great newspaper publicity)
  • Have the Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts do volunteer projects with you for their leadership awards
  • Post videos on your school website of the art show and other group projects
  • Have the students docent your art show to discuss with parents what they learned and how to make the projects in the show
  • Combine your art with a language arts class to make a illustrated book about the value of art and share it with the parents and board of ed as a "Cross Curricular" project 
  • March is Youth Arts Month- Celebrate it!
The point of this is to make what you and the other Related Arts staff do so fabulously accessible to the community, and to shine positive publicity on anything that you can do with you subject area as a teacher. Teach the community what makes art and the other Related Arts so important, and make yourself known so they will miss you if your subject area is gone. 

Any other ideas? Please Share!

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