Monday, December 13, 2010

Advocacy Action Required Now!

Advocacy Basics for 2011

There are two things fine arts advocates need to be able to do this year that will be critical to the success of our advocacy mission. One is contact your elected officials either by phone, email, hand written note or in person, and two is be prepared to make verbal statements in a public forum such as a school board meeting or newspaper interview. If you are already doing these things, I applaud your efforts and preparation. We need art advocates to be outspoken during this critical period of education reform and reorganization. Legislators and policy makers at the state and local levels need to hear our voice.

As you read this, Indiana State Legislators are formulating the state budget for the next two years. They need to hear your voice as they formulate the state budget on the importance of adequately funding public schools.

Please do one of the following or both: Call or write your legislator as soon as you can and send them your message. Use these talking points for any of your messaging activities.

• Education funding must include consideration for the preservation of existing fine arts programs.

• The creativity of our children is a national resource we cannot afford to waste.

• Children need fine arts educational experiences that empower the imagination and enhance the capacity for creativity and invention.

• Neural networks within the brain’s operating systems are stimulated, strengthened and expanded when children are engaged in high quality art and music education experience. Visual arts learning experiences strengthen children’s attentional memory and music educational experience trains the brain’s capacity for working memory.

• If we could electronically scan the human brain while its subject was engaged in a regular classroom selected response learning activity, we could see a narrow band of neural networks within the pre frontal cortex on the left side of the brain stimulated during this typical educational event. Consequently when subjects are engaged in stimulating sensory based music or art experience, neural networks within both hemispheres of the entire brain light up like Christmas tree lights.

• There are three basic skills children need if they want to thrive in the knowledge economy: the ability to communicate effectively; the ability to collaborate, and the ability to do critical thinking and creative problem-solving. One cannot make the claim that quality, world class educational experiences are being provided for Hoosier school children if subjects and programs specifically designed to foster creative problem solving are removed from the curricula.

• Fine Arts education experiences are critical for a well rounded education. Human
beings are hard wired to think and dream in visual images. Ideas and
intellectual property dependent upon visual thinkers will become assets in the
new economy of the 21st Century. The refinement of the imagination as developed through the visual arts will provide future designers, engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, innovators, professionals and others with the creative edge they will need to compete in an increasingly competitive and uncertain future.

• Students thrive in schools where art and music are present in the
curriculum. When educational experience is monotonous and based on tedious
pencil and paper seat work, learning often times goes’ into one ear, and out the
other. This fact is extremely important for policymakers to consider. Results
from the latest High School Survey of Student Engagement, conducted by
researchers from Indiana University with over 350,000 high school students
participating from across the U.S. reveals 67% of students did not feel engaged
during their school years. Upon further examination of the survey, students reveal subject areas like art, music and drama provide them with significant opportunities for personal engagement with their learning. Disengaged individuals frequently drop out of school resulting in higher crime rates, lack of unemployment opportunities and a myriad of other wicked socio economic problems. Public schools are the backbone of our communities. The health of our public school system affects us all.

• We know that children thrive in schools that provide regular quality fine arts experiences. The Governor simply cannot make the statement that we will finally reform education “centered upon children,” while shortchanging their opportunities for regular fine arts learning experiences in our schools.

Please feel free to compose your own fine arts advocacy messages and talking points, however it is vital that your state legislators here from you and that you are able to make a strong advocacy message in a public forum if you are called upon to do so.

You can find more advocacy resources here:

You can find and contact your state legislators here:

I thank you for your current and future advocacy efforts!

Warmest wishes!
Clyde Gaw
AEAI Advocacy Advisor

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