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National Endowment for the Arts Announces Upcoming Education Leaders Institutes

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How does arts education fuel the nation's economic prosperity and innovation? Or capitalize on new media trends? These and other questions will be addressed at two upcoming Education Leaders Institutes, an NEA initiative that convenes "dream teams" to develop coordinated state arts education plans. This spring, the NEA will assemble policymakers, educators, advocates, and artists to design arts education plans for their respective states.  With these upcoming Institutes, the NEA will have gathered 19 policy teams since the program was launched in 2007. Today, the NEA announces the state teams who will attend the third and fourth Institute, to be held this March and June in Chicago, Illinois.

"We are rapidly rolling out a platform to integrate the arts into national educational policy," said NEA Arts Education Director Sarah Cunningham. "Our efforts are resulting in greater awareness of innovative practices, new partnerships, and a host of dynamic state leaders who recognize the value of arts education to their economic and social welfare."

Arts & the Economy, a recent report by the National Governors Association, cites the importance of the arts to state economies, and warns of an increasingly competitive global economy. The report notes that "the most desirable high-wage jobs require employees with creativity and higher order problem solving and communications skills." 

The NEA Education Leaders Institutes bring together state teams to discuss a shared arts education challenge, and create strategies to strengthen their state's arts education policies. State teams may include state department of education officials, governor's cabinet members, superintendents, district-level school leaders, artists, and arts advocates. Each group includes a "team lead," the organization that has convened the other partners to address shared challenges.  These teams will discuss topics such as arts education and job training, new media opportunities, curriculum reform, and accountability. As participants exchange ideas, innovative partnerships emerge, coupled with renewed commitment to arts education to train the creative workforce in and out of school.

On March 18-20, the first Education Leaders Institute will convene in Chicago, Illinois. The four teams selected for the March 2009 Education Leaders Institute are: Arizona (team lead: Arizona Commission on the Arts); Washington, DC (team lead: District of Columbia Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative), Hawaii (team lead: Honolulu Theater for Youth); and West Virginia (team lead: Appalachian Education Initiative).

Another Education Leaders Institute will gather on June 14-17, also in Chicago. The five states participating are: Alabama (team lead: Alabama State Council on the Arts); Indiana (team lead: Indiana Arts Commission); Maine (team lead: Maine Arts Commission); New Mexico (team lead: New Mexico Arts; and Utah (team lead: Utah Arts Council).

The NEA is working in cooperation with the Illinois Arts Council to implement the NEA Education Leaders Institute.  In January, a panel of national and state leaders selected state teams for each Institute. The Illinois Arts Council has broad experience with state and local government collaborations, and expertise in arts-in-education issues. The Illinois Humanities Council also will provide support for upcoming programs. Two previous NEA Education Leaders Institutes took place in March and July 2008. Thus far, the program has organized ten state arts education policy teams from Alaska, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. 

The NEA Education Leaders Institute is modeled on the successful Mayors' Institute of City Design (MICD), a 20-year partnership program of the National Endowment for the Arts, The US Conference of Mayors and the American Architectural Foundation. Since 1986, more than 700 mayors and hundreds of design professionals have attended design institutes dealing with urban planning issues such as downtown and waterfront developments, transportation, housing, schools, and public facilities. The NEA Education Leaders Institute seeks to give a similar platform to school leaders, legislators, and policymakers to discuss the challenges of arts education and develop concrete strategies to strengthen their states' arts education policies and programs. 

NEA Arts Education
Since its inception in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts has provided leadership to develop and sustain an agenda for arts education. The agency has led efforts to make the arts a part of the core education for all K-12 students and to increase arts education opportunities outside of school settings. The Arts Endowment provides direct grants in arts education, collaborates in federal, state, and public-private partnerships, and conducts research on arts education for the K-12 community and lifelong learners. Many NEA programs combine the presentation of arts with arts education to foster the next generation of artists, audiences and patrons. Visit the NEA website for more information.

About the Illinois Arts Council
The Illinois Arts Council, a state agency, is committed to the cultural, educational, and economic growth of the diverse people and communities of the state through support and encouragement of artists and the arts.

About the National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the largest annual national funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities and military bases. For more information, please visit arts.gov .

For More Information Contact
Sally Gifford
(202) 682-5606
[email protected]