Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How the Arts Conquer Fear of Failure

"Great art comes from risk-taking, from being willing to fail." 

Part of any art curriculum involves a critique. Depending on the level, this comes from the teacher, the class participants, or both. We are all familiar with doing a project for a grade from the teacher. We expect this as part of the class process.

What is harder to take is the critique from fellow classmates. We aren't sure of their motivations and even if the teacher moderates the session, it is still hard to take. 

Once you get over the personal feelings of failure and go back to look at the piece objectively, then you can perhaps see the parts which could stand improvement.

It is learning to take failure in your stride and to make subsequent improvements that teach us the qualities of self-improvement and persistence.

For more on the power of the arts to teach us to move past failure, this article from Edutopia is worth the read:

Embracing Failure: Building a Growth Mindset Through the Arts

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Creativity Exists in All Fields

Quote from the Americans for the Arts website:

"Nationally, 702,771 businesses are involved in the creation or distribution of the arts, and they employ 2.9 million people. This represents 3.9 percent of all U.S. businesses and 1.9 percent of all U.S. employees—demonstrating statistically that the arts are a formidable business presence and broadly distributed across our communities"

What is a creative industry? For The Americans for the Arts study they were conservative and used this definition:

"Creative Industries are composed of arts-centric businesses that range from nonprofit museums, symphonies, and theaters to for-profit film, architecture, and advertising companies. We have guarded against overstatement of the sector by excluding industries such as computer programming and scientific research—both creative, but not focused on the arts."

More attention has been paid recently to people in creative industries and the impact those industries have on the economy mainly as a backlash against a call by some for more science and engineering in our education system and a perceived need for more scientists and engineers in the US economy. Commonly known as the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) vs STEAM debate (as before but with the addition of the A for Arts).

As if we should have to choose between scientists and artists.

The key is in the second quote "...excluding industries such as computer programming and scientific research, both creative, but not focused on the arts." There is a nod to the notion that creativity exists in all fields, not just the arts. This holistic approach to education as a life-long and complete learning experience would serve education professionals better than the current "cafeteria" approach where everyone gets to fight for their particular field and put down those in other fields. It is the reason, I think, that Project Based Learning (PBL) is an idea gaining steam (sorry).

Instead of quick units on a specific topic or rote memorization of the answers to questions with a yes or no answer, PBL involves a problem, challenge, or complex challenge that is investigated over time using life skills such as critical thinking, communication, and yes, creativity. The method may be reminiscent of scientific research but PBL also follows the classic creative process model. Graham Wallas proposed this model of the creative process five decades ago but the simplicity of it--preparation, incubation, illumination, verification--endures today despite many, many modifications.

The beauty of the PBL approach is that is applicable no matter what the subject area. You can follow this method in physics, biology, math, music, art, computer programming, etc. This is what we should be pushing for in our education system. Forget the debate over which subject is better than another, there is no right answer to that one.

We should be teaching children how to learn, not what to learn.

For more information click Americans for the Arts to go to the site.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Support Your Local Arts Community

support your local artist
A strong arts community contributes to your city or town finances through tourism dollars. Tourists come to your community for art fairs or performances, and they end up spending money in your stores and motels. The basic economic theory is the more money your municipality takes in from retail and lodging taxes, the less you should have to pay in residential taxes. That's the theory, anyway.

But a strong arts community doesn't happen all by itself. It needs support from artist participation and from the citizens who give their time and money to the local arts scene. 

If you're interested in building the arts in your community, try these strategies and encourage others to do the same.
  1. Visit local art shows. Strong attendance figures make local leaders sit up and take notice. 
  2. Buy crafts made by local artists. Once in a while you can splurge on that one of a kind necklace or quilt.
  3. By visiting those places where events are held you support the historic home or museum and possibly learn about local history.
  4. You might learn something new, always a good thing, when the artist demonstrates their techniques.
  5. Attend a performance that you might not ordinarily take an interest in. But open your mind to the experience-it's a key component in creativity.
Finally, if you are in a position to do so either at your job or as a business owner, consider a sponsorship. It's a win-win situation for you because you get your name out in front of your audience and position yourself as somewhat of a philanthropist. The event or product you are sponsoring benefits from your cash infusion.

You can support your local artists by donating your time or by purchasing the artists' products, but your support is always needed.

Here's a report on how the Arts impact the economy of your community:

Americans for the Arts

Saturday, November 22, 2014

STEM vs STEAM: Why Are We Still Debating This?

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education. STEAM is the addition of 'A' for the Arts. The STEM initiative arose out of concern that the U.S. was falling behind globally in those areas. According to the U.S. Department of Education only 16 percent of high school students are interested in a STEM career and have proven a proficiency in mathematics. (Source: http://www.livescience.com/43296-what-is-stem-education.html)

While I understand those concerns, what we need is a well-rounded education, balanced by subjects based in logic (STEM) and those in the Arts, e.g. visual art and design, drama, and music. A diet that is missing protein is bad for us. An education that is missing the Arts is also deficient.

Innovation is inherently a creative process and we need to practice creativity. To suggest that grade school education doesn't need the Arts is short-sighted.

As a parent, does your child's school include art, music and drama? If not, this is the time to start advocating for the arts.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Budget Cutting Made Simple-Cut the Arts

Yet another story of a government agency trying to manage their budget by cutting the arts. This is from the state of Michigan:

In each of the last seven years, the arts and culture industry, despite its vital and significant economic and social contributions, has faced unprecedented cuts in state funding, with dollars drastically dwindling from approximately $27 million in 2002 to Gov. Jennifer Granholm's proposed budget of $1.8 million for 2010.

As if to pour more salt on a potentially mortal wound, a tax on entertainment is once again under consideration. Proposed by the governor, the state sales tax would be expanded to include a tax on tickets purchased for every professional concert, performance or sporting event. Under the proposal, none of the monies earned through the tax, to date, are earmarked for reinvestment in the arts.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A "Good News" Post

For a change, some good news for people in the arts community:

The N.E.A. is currently funded at $155 million, and the White House had requested an increase to $161 million. The agency received an additional $50 million through the stimulus bill. This summer, the House approved $170 million for the arts endowment, while the Senate proposed $161.3 million. The final budget was decided in conference this week and passed by a vote of 247-178 in the House and 72-28 in the Senate.

“This important budget increase recognizes the essential role the arts play in our lives, schools, and communities,” said Robert L. Lynch, president and chief of Americans for the Arts, an advocacy group, in a statement.


Friday, October 16, 2009

The Essence of Who We Are

Couldn't have said it better myself. Now if only we can get politicians and the people holding the purse strings to agree...

"Specifically, a generation raised without awareness of the arts, without the opportunity to experience the arts themselves by making music, making drawings, making poems, is a disenfranchised one. Art is the essence of who we are and our society is strengthened whenever young people are given the opportunity to directly share this legacy." Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-tilson-thomas/michelle-obama-and-i-agre_b_321605.html