Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Good News for Arts Advocates!

Rosie the Riveter
Gas Station Rosie the Riveter. CC Image via Deaf Mute on Flickr.
I have to admit, I’m a bit of a Google Alert junkie. Naturally many of the alerts I have set up pertain to arts advocacy and education, and during a recession, these feeds of information can get quite depressing. Though it’s affirming to see so many stories of advocacy (students performing outside city halls to protest the arts! Art classes folding thousands of cranes to raise awareness for tsunami relief in Japan!) the sad part is that it doesn’t always work. Half of my art ed Google alerts pertain to school districts cutting their arts programs, or a university eighty-sixing their arts or humanities majors. To paraphrase what Marete Wester wrote on ARTSblog, you have to be a “manic depressive optimist” to survive as an arts advocate. Good news--we're going into a manic phase!

Arts Advocates Prevail!
     A climate of brutal budget propositions and deep cuts to the arts everywhere made this year’s Arts Advocacy Day in Washington particularly urgent. But advocates have prevailed, at least somewhat—the Arts in Education budget, whose $40 million proposed appropriation was actually going to be zeroed out, received $25 million. It may not be $40 million, but that’s $25 million more than zero, folks! The National Endowment for the Arts fared well too, receiving $155 million rather than the original allocation of $124.5 million proposed in February. Small victories!

More Data!
     I was also heartened to receive an e-mail from Americans for the Arts on Monday proclaiming that art education advocates are “gathering momentum to impact art education nationally.” In addition to Americans for the Arts’ own report (pdf, 1.6 MB) featuring recommendations on the power of the arts to fight the Creativity Crisis from the National Arts Policy Roundtable, there are two new art education reports on the horizon that will hopefully spell good news for art ed. Friday, the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities will release their new study on promoting art education in schools, titled “Reinvesting in Arts Education.” (I like the sound of that!) Additionally, the National Center for Education Statistics (part of the US Department of Ed) gave us a sneak preview of their study on the state of art education nationwide. You can be sure I’ll be updating you on all this new data soon (I am a right-brainer, after all). But after a brutal budget season for many educators and arts advocates, it’s nice to have some positives to look forward to.

     Finally, this morning’s Google alert revealed some of the most exciting news of all for me and many other soon-to-be-graduates in the arts. According to a new report from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project, ninety two percent of arts graduates find work and satisfaction. Fifty seven percent were working as artists—and this does number not include artists who become art teachers or arts administrators. (Not that, ahem, either of those professions are anything to shake a stick at.) SNAAP surveyed over 13,000 graduates from art schools, art departments, and arts high schools who graduated between 2005 and 2009 (that includes post-recession grads!) as well as some graduates from previous years. You can learn more about SNAAP’s study in USA Today. Happy reading!

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