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CAA has joined a list of twenty-six national organizations, six regional museum associations, and thirty-nine state associations in sending a letter to President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team. The letter, drafted by the American Association of Museums and sent on December 22, 2008, states the case for the importance of US museums of all kinds and recommends $50 million in funding for the Office of Museum Services at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in fiscal year 2010—an increase of $19 million over this year’s budget.

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The Arts Education Network Weekly News reports that several national arts and arts education organizations have submitted a policy brief on the arts to President-elect Barack Obama and his transition team. The brief covers recommendations for the National Endowment for the Arts; cultural exchange; arts education in school, work, and life; national service and the arts; and the role of the arts in nonprofit communities. The brief also requests that the incoming president appoint a senior-level administration official to coordinate arts and cultural policy.

According to the brief, “The arts and cultural community welcomes the opportunity to communicate with President-Elect Obama and his staff in re-imagining how the federal government can inspire and support creativity in communities nationwide through robust policies that advance participation in the arts for all Americans.”

The following are the recommendations proposed for arts education:

  • Prevent economic status and geographic location from denying students a comprehensive arts education
  • Ensure equitable access to the full benefits of arts education when reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act so that all, not just some, students can learn to their full potential
  • Exercise leadership to encourage arts-based and other creative learning environments for academically at-risk students participating in Title I-funded programs
  • Retain the arts in the definition of core academic subjects of learning and reauthorize the Arts in Education Programs of the US Department of Education
  • Fund after-school arts learning opportunities and support arts-education partnerships between schools and community arts and cultural organizations
  • Move federal policy beyond simply declaring the arts as a core academic subject to actually implementing arts education as an essential subject of learning
  • Require states to issue annual public reports on the local status and condition of arts education and other core academic subjects
  • Improve national data collection and research in arts education
  • Invest in professional development opportunities for teachers in the arts
  • Deploy arts education as an economic-development strategy
  • Authorize and encourage inclusion of arts learning in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) initiatives in order to foster imagination and innovation. Without the arts, STEM falls short of its potential to advance education and workforce development
  • Fully preparing students with the creative skills they will need to advance our nation’s position in the twenty-first-century global economy requires implementing the arts as a core subject of learning and ensuring that all students attain cultural literacy
  • Ensure that the full range of federal initiatives that advance workforce development, such as Department of Labor programs, provide training in the skills of creativity and imagination

Among the many joining organizations are Americans for the Arts, the American Association of Museums, the Association of Art Museum Directors, the Literary Network, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, the National Council for Traditional Arts, and the National Performance Network.

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States are making little or no progress in providing affordable college opportunities or improving college completion rates for their residents, says a report released today by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. The findings come as states face massive budget shortfalls that threaten higher-education funding, and the United States continues to lag behind other advanced nations on measures of higher-education performance.

Drawing on nearly two decades of data, the report, Measuring Up 2008, finds that while states have made modest gains in preparing students for college, more students are failing to graduate from high school. While college-enrollment rates for young adults are improving, enrollment rates are declining for older adults. The report also notes that the burden of paying for college is now higher for students in every state, and low college-completion rates have barely improved. Additionally, disparities persist in college access and success by income, race and ethnicity, and state.

According to the study, major gaps include:

  • Affordability. The burden of paying for college has increased for all families but has increased substantially more for low- and middle-income families. Nationally, families in the lowest-income group (bottom 20 percent of the population) pay 55 percent of their income to attend public four-year colleges and universities (after accounting for all student financial aid)—a jump from 39 percent in 2000. Families in the middle-income group (middle 20 percent of the population) pay 25 percent of their income (up from 18 percent in 2000), and those in the top income group (top 20 percent of the population) pay 9 percent of their income (up from 7 percent in 2000). (See page 8 of Measuring Up 2008.)
  • Additionally, college is more affordable in some states than others. At community colleges, the proportion of family income needed to pay for college expenses, after financial aid, has increased from 18 percent to 25 percent in Florida, and from 20 percent to 25 percent in Washington State. At public four-year institutions, the percentage of income needed to pay costs, after aid, has increased from 17 percent to 20 percent in Minnesota, from 19 percent to 34 percent in New Jersey, and from 29 percent to 41 percent in Pennsylvania. (See page 15.)
  • High school completion. In Illinois, 95 percent of white young adults have a high school credential, compared with 82 percent of blacks. In Texas, 93 percent of white young adults have a high school credential, compared with 74 percent of Hispanics. (See page 14.)
  • College attendance. In Connecticut and New York, 50 percent of white young adults are enrolled in college, compared with 34 percent of blacks. In California, 45 percent of whites are enrolled, compared with 27 percent of Hispanics. In Arizona, 40 percent of whites are enrolled, compared with 18 percent of Native Americans. (See page 14.)
  • College graduation. In Delaware, 73 percent of white students complete a bachelor’s degree within six years of enrolling in college, compared with 41 percent of black students. In New York, 63 percent of whites do so, compared with 43 percent of Hispanics. In New Mexico, 47 percent of whites graduate within six years, compared with 25 percent of Native Americans. (See page 16.)

As a result of these inequities, US higher-education performance has been declining compared to other nations in recent years.

  • In college completion, which has never been a strength of American higher education, the US falls in the middle of the pack: fifteenth among twenty-nine countries compared
  • The US adult population ages thirty-five and older still ranks among the world leaders (second only to their peers in Canada) in the percentage who have college degrees, reflecting the educational progress of earlier times
  • Among twenty-five- to thirty-four-year-olds, however, the US has slipped to tenth in the percentage having college degrees. This relative erosion of our national “educational capital” reflects the lack of significant improvement in the rates of college participation and completion in the US in recent years, compared with other countries

Measuring Up 2008 is the fifth in a series of biennial report cards issued by the National Center, based in San Jose, California. Like the earlier reports, this edition measures the performance of the nation and of each state in providing education and training beyond high school. Each state receives an A-to-F grade in each of five performance areas.

In addition to the national report card, detailed individual report cards are available for each of the fifty states. Upon release of Measuring Up 2008, the national and state report cards will be posted on the National Center’s website.

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education promotes public policies that enhance Americans’ opportunities to pursue and achieve a quality higher education. Established in 1998 by a consortium of national foundations, the center is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. It is not associated with any institution of higher education, with any political party, or with any government agency. The National Center is solely responsible for Measuring Up 2008.

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MFA Standards Updated

posted by November 13, 2008

Last month, the CAA Board of Directors approved revisions to the MFA Standards, one of the organization’s many Standards and Guidelines for visual-art professionals. The revised document, prepared by a subcommittee of the Professional Practices Committee (PPC), is now published to the CAA website.

During summer and fall 2008, Jean Miller, chair of the PPC-MFA Standards Review Committee, and Charles Wright, a PPC member who is also leading a discussion about the doctorate in studio art, worked on a draft of a revised MFA Standards. Last revised and approved in 1991, the document was submitted to the board by Maxine Payne, PPC chair.

The PPC-MFA Committee contacted art and design colleagues across the nation throughout the revision process to gather ideas for changes. The response was very good, with certain themes or points reoccurring. Many of those queried thought that the idea of the MFA as the terminal degree in art and design needed to be reinforced. Others found the language in the 1991 standards to be dated, so it was rewritten throughout to reflect present-day issues and concerns.

Contemporary and evolving studio practices, interpretation of ideas, and the role of art and design in innovation were all thought to be important concepts. Information about technology and experimental media, collaborative works, and interdisciplinary applications of art and design were also considered to be critical to current art practices for students in MFA programs.

Some respondents advocated for robust and comprehensive educational curricula that include critical studies, art history, and visual culture. The inclusion of statements about diversity and how curriculum must support non-Western and Western cultures was important to all.

The PPC thanks everyone who helped in the revision, in particular, Carmon Colangelo, Patricia Olynyk, Nora Sturges, Judith Thorpe, and Jim Hopfensperger.

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Bruce Cole to Leave the NEH

posted by November 12, 2008

Bruce Cole, NEH chairman

The National Endowment for the Humanities has announced that Chairman Bruce Cole will leave the endowment to join the American Revolution Center as its president and chief executive officer, effective January 2009.

Appointed NEH chairman by President George W. Bush, Cole was confirmed by the Senate in 2001 and reconfirmed in 2005 for a second term. Cole is the longest serving chairman in NEH history. During his tenure, the NEH launched innovative humanities programs, including We the People and Picturing America. Under his leadership, the NEH led the application of digital technology to the humanities through its Office of Digital Humanities. The office established innovative new grant programs and formed ground-breaking partnerships with the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. Cole has also worked to broaden the international reach of NEH.

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On May 8, 2008, a hearing was held by the Healthy Families and Communities Subcommittee in the House of Representatives to discuss the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). While the subcommittee has jurisdiction over NEH and NEA authorization, this was an informational hearing only.

The following individuals provided testimony on the national impact of NEH and NEA programs: Ken Burns, documentary filmmaker; Bruce Cole, NEH chairman; Dana Gioia, NEA chairman; William Glacken, mayor of Freeport, New York; Jeanne Schmedlen, director of special projects and chief of protocol office for the speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives; Katrine Watkins, librarian at Shaler Area Intermediate School in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania; and former US Army Captain Ryan Kelly, a participant in Operation Homecoming, an NEA-sponsored program.

The panelists emphasized the importance of NEH and NEA grants to their work and asked that Congress continue to support arts and humanities programming. Testimony focused on the agency’s special initiatives, including the NEH’s We the People Bookshelf and Picturing America programs, as well as the NEA’s Mayors Institute on Urban Design and Operation Homecoming. Chairwoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) praised the NEA and NEH programs presented and identified them as essential to defining “what is America.” She also reiterated the importance of the arts and humanities to American society.

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Artists often don’t end up working in the exact fields in which they trained. Instead, they may work at the boundaries between disciplines. Artists frequently move between the nonprofit and commercial sectors; some hold multiple jobs. Moreover, there is a growing demand for arts training, both from students and the rising number of employers in the creative economy. Arts-training institutions and civic policy makers need good data to respond and plan effectively.

The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) was launched this month to examine questions about the impact of arts training. The project will provide a first-ever in-depth look at factors that help or hinder the careers of graduates of arts high schools, arts colleges and conservatories, and arts schools and departments within colleges and universities.

Arts alumni who graduated five, ten, fifteen, and twenty years earlier will provide information about their formal arts training. They will report the nature of their current arts involvement, reflect on the relevance of arts training to their work and further education, and describe turning points, obstacles, and key relationships and opportunities that influenced their lives and careers.

The results of the annual online survey and data-analysis system will help schools to strengthen their programs of study by tracking what young artists need to advance in their fields. In addition, the information will allow institutions to compare their performance against other schools in order to identify areas where improvements are needed.

The Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research will administer the annual survey in cooperation with the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University. Steven J. Tepper, Curb Center associate director, says “SNAAP is a milestone for cultural-policy research, because it will go beyond profiles of individual artists and provide a comprehensive look at the creative workforce in America and the critical role of training institutions in preparing artists and creative workers.” The project will be guided by a National Advisory Board comprised of leaders from all types and levels of arts-training institutions, visual and performing artists, and arts and community-development leaders from the nonprofit and commercial sectors.

Over time, SNAAP findings will allow institutions to learn more about the impact of their educational programs to better understand, for example, how students in different majors use their arts training in their careers and other aspects of their lives. Policy makers and community leaders will be able to use SNAAP findings to understand local, regional, and national arts workforce issues and market patterns. The results will also indicate how students who have trained intensively in the arts contribute to their communities and different areas of the economy.

According to George Kuh, Indiana University professor and SNAAP project director, the arts-alumni survey will be extensively field-tested in 2008 and 2009 with as many as one hundred institutions before its first national administration in 2010. “We’ll learn a lot about what matters in arts training from these early results and also be able to fine-tune the survey for future use,” Kuh said. The Curb Center will host a national conference in 2010 to explore the educational and cultural-policy implications of SNAAP findings.

After several years of studying the need for and feasibility of the project, the Surdna Foundation recently awarded a five-year $2,500,000 leadership grant to help launch the project. In addition, support from other funders is anticipated to support the testing phases of the project and insure widespread participation. SNAAP is expected to become self-sustaining through institutional participation fees by 2012.

Further project information is available on the SNAAP website.

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Artists often don’t end up working in the exact fields in which they trained. Instead, they may work at the boundaries between disciplines. Artists frequently move between the nonprofit and commercial sectors; some hold multiple jobs. Moreover, there is a growing demand for arts training, both from students and the rising number of employers in the creative economy. Arts-training institutions and civic policy makers need good data to respond and plan effectively.

The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) was launched this month to examine questions about the impact of arts training. The project will provide a first-ever in-depth look at factors that help or hinder the careers of graduates of arts high schools, arts colleges and conservatories, and arts schools and departments within colleges and universities.

Arts alumni who graduated five, ten, fifteen, and twenty years earlier will provide information about their formal arts training. They will report the nature of their current arts involvement, reflect on the relevance of arts training to their work and further education, and describe turning points, obstacles, and key relationships and opportunities that influenced their lives and careers.

The results of the annual online survey and data-analysis system will help schools to strengthen their programs of study by tracking what young artists need to advance in their fields. In addition, the information will allow institutions to compare their performance against other schools in order to identify areas where improvements are needed.

The Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research will administer the annual survey in cooperation with the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University. Steven J. Tepper, Curb Center associate director, says “SNAAP is a milestone for cultural-policy research, because it will go beyond profiles of individual artists and provide a comprehensive look at the creative workforce in America and the critical role of training institutions in preparing artists and creative workers.” The project will be guided by a National Advisory Board comprised of leaders from all types and levels of arts-training institutions, visual and performing artists, and arts and community-development leaders from the nonprofit and commercial sectors.

Over time, SNAAP findings will allow institutions to learn more about the impact of their educational programs to better understand, for example, how students in different majors use their arts training in their careers and other aspects of their lives. Policy makers and community leaders will be able to use SNAAP findings to understand local, regional, and national arts workforce issues and market patterns. The results will also indicate how students who have trained intensively in the arts contribute to their communities and different areas of the economy.

According to George Kuh, Indiana University professor and SNAAP project director, the arts-alumni survey will be extensively field-tested in 2008 and 2009 with as many as one hundred institutions before its first national administration in 2010. “We’ll learn a lot about what matters in arts training from these early results and also be able to fine-tune the survey for future use,” Kuh said. The Curb Center will host a national conference in 2010 to explore the educational and cultural-policy implications of SNAAP findings.

After several years of studying the need for and feasibility of the project, the Surdna Foundation recently awarded a five-year $2,500,000 leadership grant to help launch the project. In addition, support from other funders is anticipated to support the testing phases of the project and insure widespread participation. SNAAP is expected to become self-sustaining through institutional participation fees by 2012.

Further project information is available on the SNAAP website.

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On October 23, 2002, President George W. Bush announced his intention to nominate poet, critic, and educator Dana Gioia as the next chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Gioia is best known for his book about the role of poetry in contemporary culture, Can Poetry Matter? Essays on Poetry and American Culture (St. Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 1992). He has taught as a visiting writer at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, and Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. Previously, he spent fifteen years as a business executive for General Foods. Once the nomination is made, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions will review it. Once confirmed, the new chair will serve a four-year term.

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