Thursday, October 8, 2009

High Tech. High

This is a wonderful short documentary about a middle school and high school that embraces learning that flows from personal interests, passion for discovery, and a celebration of art, technology, and craftsmanship.
If your school is not embracing some of the techniques used in this school, your students will be at a disadvantage. Teachers are encouraged to teach what they are passionate about. Students are treated like adults: responsible and inquiring people. Students work in groups to produce projects that solve problems. Their work is exhibited and people ask questions about the work and the processes. They learn from each other, not just the adults in their school.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Art Educators of Iowa Award Winners

 (l. to r.) Nancy Sojka, Distinguished Service Within the Profession; Kay Huffaker Hall, Supervision/Administration; Kenneth Esveld, Art Educator of the Year and Mary Bucksbaum Scanlan Endownment from the Belin Blank Center; Stacy Houk, Elementary Art Educator of the Year, and Bob Sanderson, Distinguished Service Outside the Profession. Not pictured, Robert Glocke, Lifetime Achievement Award.
At the 2009 Fall AEI Conference, these members of the Arts Education community were recognized for their contributions to the state of Iowa. The Conference, held at UNI, highlighted the best of teaching practices in the Visual Arts realm.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Teachers learn to teach art

The Wenatchee World Online - NCW teachers learn to teach art

This article reminds us that non-art-teacher teachers need some practice to help their students be more creative and confident in their problem-solving skills.

Friday, August 7, 2009

New Leaders in Washington

August 7--The U.S. Senate confirmed Broadway producer Rocco Landesman to serve as the next National Endowment for the Arts chair and former Iowa Congressman Jim Leach to serve as National Endowment for the Humanities chair. Both are expected to begin work next week.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

2009 Arts Education Award for School Boards

The Iowa Association of School Boards, in cooperation with the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education, is participating in an awards program to recognize local school boards for outstanding support of the arts in education. The national program is cosponsored by the Kennedy Center/Alliance for Arts Education and the National School Boards Association.

Each member school board in Iowa is given the opportunity to nominate themselves for consideration by IASB and the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education, a statewide alliance of the professional arts education associations. The two organizations will together select the one Iowa school board to compete at the national level for this award.

The state nomination deadline is October 20, 2009. Nominations must be received in the IASB office by that date. The winner will be notified on November 2, 2009.

See more info at the IASB site...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Dollars for Art Jobs in Iowa Including IAAE

IAAE was one of the recipients of money for Art Jobs from the Iowa Arts Council. On July 24, Governor Culver and Lt. Governor Patty Judge announced the awards of $475,200 to organizations around the state.

The awards – made by the Iowa Arts Council, Arts Midwest and the National Endowment for the Arts – are supported by funding from the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The NEA, which awarded ARRA funding directly to arts organizations, also awarded ARRA funding to both the Iowa Arts Council and Arts Midwest for re-granting to preserve arts jobs.

The $25,000 awarded to IAAE will be used to pay our Executive Director Diane Franken of Davenport.
Yahoo!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's All About the Art!

Obama Administration Working To Revamp Image Of "No Child Left Behind."
The Washington Post (6/23, Glod) reports, "Seven years ago, a rally at the Department of Education promoted one of then-President George W. Bush's most significant domestic achievements -- the No Child Left Behind law. The backdrop: a red schoolhouse." Now, as the Obama administration seeks to put "its own stamp on education reform," officials are considering "a new name and image for" the law, which "has grown unpopular with many teachers and suburban parents, even though it was enacted with bipartisan support in Congress." Currently, "No Child logos on the Education Department elevators are being stripped." In addition, "official correspondence to states now refers to the law's original name, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965." And "on workers pulled down the schoolhouse and its No Child Left Behind sign. Instead, photos of students, from preschool to college age, are going up on 44 ground-floor windows, forming an exhibit that can be seen from outside."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

From the NEA Morning Update: June 16

NAEP: Little Progress Seen In Middle-Schoolers' Music, Visual Arts Knowledge.
USA Today (6/16, Toppo) reports, "New data out today from [ED]'s National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, may make America's arts instructors kind of blue: In the past decade or so, middle-schoolers have made little progress in how much they know about music and visual arts." Yet, the data "also suggest that educators' fears about the arts being squeezed out of public schools may be unfounded - at least for older students. Middle-school administrators polled as part of the tests say students are just as likely to have received regular instruction in music and arts in 2008 as in 1997." This suggests that NCLB "may not have adversely affected middle schoolers' instruction time in the arts, as many critics worried."
The New York Times (6/16, A12, Dillon) adds that the NAEP survey released on Monday "was conducted as part of a nationwide test of music and arts achievement administered last year. ... Previous studies have contradicted one another. Some found that art, music, history and other classes were being taught less frequently as schools focused on reading and math, since the [NCLB] holds schools accountable for test results in only those subjects." However, a "study by the Government Accountability Office reported in February that the time devoted to arts instruction had remained constant in recent years."
In a similar vein Education Week (6/16, Zehr) reports, "About the same share of 8th graders attend schools where music and visual-arts instruction are offered as a decade ago...about half" as NEAP reports "57 percent of 8th graders in 2008 attended schools where music instruction was provided at least three or four times a week, while 47 percent went to schools where visual-arts instruction was offered at least as often." NCES commissioner Stuart Kerachsky said the report does not "provide evidence to fuel 'a concern expressed that schools are cutting out music or other arts,'" though he also said the study "gives information only about school offerings...not about how many students in those schools actually take part in arts education." Kerachsky also said that "the NCES soon plans to conduct fast-response surveys of arts administrators or providers, including music specialists, principals, and classroom teachers, to understand better what such programs offer."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Empty Canvases and Silent Orchestras?

John Showalter is a student at UNI who interviewed Diane Franken and others on the state of arts education in Iowa.

"The assignment was for a class called "News Writing for Print Media" with Dr. Christopher Martin. We were to write enterprise stories; large news stories that combined research and interview to tackle a social/cultural issue. Among themes in the class were premarital cohabitation, the state of life in Cedar Falls, Iowa, etc. Some of my favorite classes growing up were music and art classes, and I knew this was something that impacted the entire country. I also knew it was a subject on which I could gather localized information relating to Iowa to grab an Iowan reader's expections while discussing the state in the country as a whole. It is a timeless subject yet a very important one. One may even be reminded of a world without art, such as Fahrenheit 451 or Brave New World and the horrific dystopian futures these portrayed."

John's article...Empty Canvases and Silent Orchestras?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Missing Piece in the Economic Stimulus

This article on the Psychology Today blog includes some facts that should make us think twice or more about cutting the arts from students' school experiences.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Asian Fusion

Asian Fusion Art Exhibit at
CelebrAsian: The Seventh Annual Asian Heritage Festival May 16, 2009 10:00 to 8:00

Asian Artists living in Iowa will come together for a one-day “Happening” at the 2009 CelebrAsian Art Exhibit, Des Moines, Capitol Terrace East Campus. Rarely seen in Iowa’s art arena, this art form dates back to the late 1950’s. A contemporary piece to be created and unveiled at the festival, Happenings emphasizes place/space with a spirit of anarchy and chance while blending art with the everyday.

More info...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Playing for Change

Below is a link to one of the best pieces of sound engineering work around at the moment. It is a composite audio/video song whereby additional tracks were laid in by different singers and musicians from different places around the world.

The song itself is that classic standard "Stand By Me" originally released in 1955 by The Staple Singers and released again in 1 1961 by the Drifters.

This composite version is a real toe tapper, so turn up the speaker volume and click on or copy the following link into your web browser and enjoy:

If you are interested in becoming a part of the Playing for Change Foundation, go to their website.

Thanks to Larry Brandstetter, who says: It is my hope that all teachers of the arts can see and appreciate this well filmed and edited piece that shows how music unites people despite cultures, ages, or race.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Music instruction helps children read

Children exposed to a multi-year program of music involving increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills display superior cognitive performance in reading skills compared with their non-musically trained peers, according to a study published in the Psychology of Music journal. According to authors Joseph M. Piro and Camilo Ortiz from Long Island University, data from this study will help to clarify the role of music study on cognition and shed light on the question of the potential of music to enhance school performance in language and literacy.
Read more:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

John L. Weinkein: New Art Basics

John L. Weinkein, 61, professor and chairman of the Department of Visual Arts at Texas Woman’s University, passed away March 26, 2009. John was an instumental part of the New Art Basics project at Iowa State University.

John is survived by his loving wife, Gayle Loeffler; his mother, Aileen; his son, Eric; daughter-in-law, Magdalena; and grandson, Filip. He also leaves behind his stepsons, Shaun Ellis and Brandon Ellis; step-daughter-in-law, Michelle; and step-granddaughter, Alina. John’s work and life of integrity has touched and inspired many. He was loved and respected by all who knew him.

Memorial services will be Friday, April 3, 2009, at 2 p.m. at Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church, 1641 W. Hebron Pkwy, Carrollton, TX 75010.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to The John Weinkein Distinction in the Visual Arts Award Endowment, made payable to TWU Foundation/John Weinkein Endowment. The mailing address is Institutional Development, Texas Woman’s University, P.O. Box 425618, Denton, TX 76204.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Grant Opportunities for Arts Teachers

Music instruction helps children read
Children exposed to a multi-year program of music involving increasingly complex rhythmic, tonal, and practical skills display superior cognitive performance in reading skills compared with their non-musically trained peers, according to a study published in the Psychology of Music journal. According to authors Joseph M. Piro and Camilo Ortiz from Long Island University, data from this study will help to clarify the role of music study on cognition and shed light on the question of the potential of music to enhance school performance in language and literacy.
Read more:

Fund for Teachers: Grants for Travel and Growth
The Fund for Teachers makes direct grants to teachers for summer learning opportunities of their own design. Maximum award: $5,000. Eligibility: teachers K-12 with a minimum of three years teaching experience; teachers must be full-time and spend at least 50 percent of the time in the classroom when grants are approved and made. Deadline: varies by state.

Music Is Revolution: Mini-grants
The Music Is Revolution Foundation makes mini-grants for activities designed by teachers to implement, support, and/or improve their ability to provide quality music education for their students. Funds may be used for supplies, materials, equipment, transportation for a field trip, and/or to bring a performer or musical group to the school. Maximum award: $500. Eligibility: public school teachers of children in grades K-12. Deadline: April 15, 2009.

Target Store Grants – Arts
Target funds arts programs that bring the arts to schools or make it affordable for youth and families to participate in cultural experiences, such as school touring programs, field trips to the theater or symphony, or artists residencies and workshops in schools. Programs that make the arts accessible to school children are of particular interest. Target will accept grant applications online between March 1 and May 31, 2009, for programs taking place between October 1, 2009, and September 30, 2010. You will receive notification about your request by September 30, 2009. Most grants average between $1,000 and $3,000.;jsessionid=XGA0BLDGEKU0XLARAAVPYAQ?contentId=WCMP04-031819

Target also supports early childhood reading and family violence prevention.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bill Strickland: One Slide at a Time

I just stumbled across an inspiring video. It is not new, but the story is powerful: "As a Pittsburgh youth besieged by racism in the crumbling remains of the steel economy, Bill Strickland should have been one of the Rust Belt's casualties. Instead, he discovered the potter's wheel, and the transforming power of fountains, irrepressible dreams, and the slide show."
If you think that no one cares and no one person can make a difference: watch and listen to Bill Strickland.

Bill's story is about the ways that the arts can change people's lives. See his website.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

National Schools of Distinction in Arts Education Award

Nominations for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts National Schools of Distinction in Arts Education Award (formerly the Creative Ticket Award) are due Friday, April 3rd. This Award honors up to five schools each year from across the nation that provide teaching programs in the four basic art forms (music, visual arts, dance and theatre).

Each State Alliance is eligible to nominate up to five schools for consideration for the national-level award. In addition, the KCAAEN collaborates with the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) to recognize the K-8 Principals of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts National Schools of Distinction in Arts Education -Winning Schools.
The Application Form

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

21st Century Skills Video

Check out this interesting YouTube video has been posted by Ken Kay from Partnership for 21st Century Skills. He answered the recent questions and clarified the marriage between content and 21st century skills. Read comments, including by Diane Franken, our Executive Director.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday, March 1, 2009

From a Designer's Point of View

IDEO is a design consulting firm in California. The firm’s work with Ormondale Elementary School, in Portola Valley, California, helped pioneer a special “investigative-learning” curriculum that inspires students to be seekers of knowledge.
Metropolis Magazine has published another point of view concerning 21st. Century Skills.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Congratulations to Us!

Today the U.S. House of Representatives approved their final version of the Economic Recovery bill by a vote of 246-183. We can now confirm that the package DOES include $50 million in direct support for arts jobs through National Endowment for the Arts grants. We are also happy to report that the exclusionary Coburn Amendment language banning certain arts groups from receiving any other economic recovery funds has also been successfully removed. Tonight the Senate is scheduled to have their final vote, and President Obama plans to sign the bill on Monday - President's Day.

A United Voice
This is an important victory for all of you as arts advocates. More than 85,000 letters were sent to Congress, thousands of calls were made, and hundreds of op-eds, letters to the editor, news stories, and blog entries were generated in print and online media about the role of the arts in the economy. Artists, business leaders, mayors, governors, and a full range of national, state, and local arts groups all united together on this advocacy issue. This outcome marks a stunning turnaround of events and exemplifies the power of grassroots arts advocacy.

We would like to also thank some key leaders on Capitol Hill who really carried our voices into the conference negotiation room and throughout the halls of Congress: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey (D-WI), House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA), and Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair Louise Slaughter (D-NY). We also want to publicly thank President Obama for taking the early lead in recognizing the role of the arts in economic development. These leaders were able to convincingly make the case that protecting jobs in the creative sector is integral to the U.S. economy.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Senator Grassley needs to hear from YOU!

February 10, 2009

Today, Sen. Charles E. Grassley was named to the conference committee that will conduct the final negotiations to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the Economic Recovery legislation. There are only 10 conferees in all, five from the Senate, five from the House.

Because you are represented by Sen. Charles E. Grassley in Congress you have an amplified voice in carrying the pro-arts message on behalf of arts advocates across the country. The conference committee formally began working today and they hope to finish their work by Friday, February 13, 2009. Will you please take two minutes by Thursday to contact your Senator and make the following pro-arts request:

Remove the Coburn Amendment prohibition on museums, theaters and art centers. The Senate bill includes a provision that would specifically ban any economic recovery spending on these types of arts groups. Conversely, the House bill does not prohibit museums, theaters, or art centers from receiving economic recovery funds. Please urge your Senator to remove the Senate's exclusionary language on arts groups from the final conference bill.

Keep the $50 million in funding for arts jobs. The House bill provides $50 million in economic recovery funds for arts jobs through grants made by the National Endowment for the Arts. Unfortunately, the Senate version of the bill does not include any similar funds. Please urge your Senator to support the House funding provision.

Further details and talking points are supplied through The Americans for the Arts' E-Advocacy Center. Thank you for supporting the arts.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Action Needed to Reverse the Coburn Amendment!

February 6, 2009

Breaking News from Americans for the Arts:
"This afternoon the U.S. Senate, during their consideration of the economic recovery bill, approved an egregious amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) that stated “None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.” Unfortunately, the amendment passed by a wide vote margin of 73-24, and surprisingly included support from many high profile Senators including Chuck Schumer of New York, Dianne Feinstein of California, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, and several other Democratic and Republican Senators.

If the Coburn amendment language is included in the final conference version of this legislation, many arts groups will be prevented from receiving economic recovery funds from any portion of this specific stimulus bill. It is clear that there is still much work to be done in the Senate and in the media about the role that nonprofit arts organizations and artists play in the nation’s economy and workforce.

Plan of Action
Arts advocates need to quickly contact Senators who voted for the Coburn Amendment and express your extreme disappointment with their vote. We need these Senators to know that their vote would detrimentally impact nonprofit arts organizations and the jobs they support in their state.
We have crafted a customized message for you to send to your Senators based on their vote on the Coburn Amendment. The correct letter, customized to each of your Senators will appear when you enter your zip code. If your Senator voted for this funding prohibition, you can send them a message expressing your disappointment and ask them to work to delete this language in the final conference bill with the House. If your Senator voted against the Coburn Amendment, you can thank them for their support of the arts."

If you would like more information from Americans for the Arts, go to their website and sign up for their eNewsletter.

Saturday, January 31, 2009


The House of Representatives on Wednesday, January 28, passed the economic stimulus legislation – H.R.1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – with provisions intact allocating $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts. All Republican House members, joined by 11 Democrats, voted against the measure.

TAKE ACTION: The Senate expects to vote on its version of the stimulus legislation the week of February 2. If you have not yet done so, please contact your senators urging their support to retain the $50 million allocation for the National Endowment for the Arts when the economic stimulus legislation takes final shape by including the provision passed by the House, with 40% of the NEA funds going to state arts agencies and the remainder distributed in direct grants to fund arts projects that preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector.

Reach your senators by phone through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, or by email at

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

U.S. Dept. of Education: Teaching Ambassador Fellowship

The U.S. Department of Education is accepting applications for the 2009-2010 Teaching Ambassador Fellowship program, which offers highly motivated, innovative public school teachers the opportunity to contribute their knowledge and experience to the national dialogue on public education. Washington Fellows become full-time federal employees at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C., participating in policy discussions and working alongside staff on education programs and strategies aimed at educational improvement. Classroom Fellows remain in their local schools under their regular teaching contracts and provide their experience and perspectives to the Department through various assignments and part-time projects. Maximum award: fellowship compensated at the federal GS-12 level. Eligibility: state certified pre-K-12 public school teachers of all subjects who have spent at least three years in the classroom. Deadline: March 16, 2009.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Save the Dates: Feb. 15-18

Iowa Not-for-Profit Alliance Conference 
February 16th – 17th, 2009
Marriott Hotel Downtown Des Moines


Cultural Advocacy Day 
Feb 18, 2009

Great Places Legislative Breakfast- 7:00-9:00, North Wing, Capitol Rotunda. Great Places communities host a legislative continental breakfast with legislators.

Meet with your Legislators to discuss the Cultural Legislative Platform – any time on February 18 – ICC table at north end of Rotunda from 9 am to 4 pm to check in if you are meeting with your legislator.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Nominate Yourself or Others!

Americans for the Arts Annual Awards

Presented each year in conjunction with Americans for the Arts Annual Convention, Americans for the Arts Annual Awards recognize the achievements of individuals, organizations, or programs committed to enriching their communities through the arts. Deadline for nominations is February 27, 2009 and you must be a member of Americans for the Arts to make a nomination. Awards are presented in the following areas:
Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award
Arts Education Award
Emerging Leader Award
Michael Newton Award for United Arts Funds Leadership
Public Art Network Award
Selina Roberts Ottum Award for Arts Leadership
To learn more or to nominate yourself or a colleague, visit

Arts Education for the Whole Child

Principal magazine's Jan/Feb issue is centered on Arts Education with several excellent articles. 
Using Interdisciplinary Arts Education to Enhance Learning
Arts Education and the Whole Child
A School Revitalized Through the Arts
Masterpieces in the Hallways
and a PS by the NAESP Ex. Director Gail Connelly

Monday, January 19, 2009

Orchestra Iowa (the Cedar Rapids Symphony) Invites You

Orchestra Iowa (the Cedar Rapids Symphony) says:
We are seeking 10 teacher-collaborators from throughout Iowa to develop learning activities based on Season 2 of the Emmy-nominated PBS television series, From the Top at Carnegie Hall. Each teacher will receive a $250 honorarium and eight hours of paid release time in return for working with us to develop one new learning activity and review four others. Multidisciplinary approaches are encouraged. All 13 episodes of the television series can be viewed online at, and you can see 24 learning activities created by From the Top to accompany the series (click on the “For Teachers” link on the home page). For the complete application see (and scroll down to “Opportunities for Schools and Teachers”). The application deadline is January 30, 2009.

For students throughout Iowa, the Iowa Makes Music + Media contest! Students between the ages of 11 and 18 create an original, 2-4 minute multimedia piece based on the PBS television series, From the Top at Carnegie Hall. Winners will receive recognition on the From the Top radio show, be featured on the web sites of From the Top and Orchestra Iowa, and will win a brand new FlipCam or iPod. Entries will be judged based on originality, artistic insight, and technical quality. For all the contest rules, go to Entry deadline: March 15, 2009. Contest winners will be announced May 19 at the live radio taping of From the Top in Cedar Rapids.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cabinet-Level Arts Czar?

Quincy Jones and two other New York artists have started a petition now signed by more than 76,000 to ask Obama to create a cabinet position for the arts. In December, 15 organizations joined Americans for the Arts in petitioning the Obama-Biden transition team to stop the fragmentation of cultural policy. The establishment of a Cabinet office would take the approval of Congress. A dedicated office in the West Wing would be up to the president.
Get Involved! Sign the petition.

The Work of Dan Pink

Karl Fisch, Director of Technology for Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado, has a series of blog posts about how he taught the content of Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind.

"Best Community for Music Education?"

Since 1998, the NAMM Foundation has been conducting the Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) Survey, a nationwide search for communities whose programs exemplify commitment to music education. The initiative recognizes and celebrates communities and their school administrators, teachers, board members, parents, community leaders and students for their support and commitment to their music education programs. The program also acknowledges community and school district commitment to assure access to music education for all students.

Americans for the Arts is proud to play a part in this important national recognition effort, and we encourage you participate in it as well by completing the tenth annual Best Communities for Music Education in America (BCME) survey. The 2009 survey will be conducted in collaboration with The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, KS an affiliate of the University of Kansas.

Visit The NAMM Foundation January 15, 2009 through March 13, 2009 to review and complete an online survey form on behalf of your community. If you prefer, you can forward this message to a school administrator, teacher, or Board of Education member who has more of the data close at hand.

Over the years, school districts have reported that being designated a “Best Community for Music Education” helped them gain valuable recognition for their communities that in turn aided their efforts to sustain and grow their music education programs. We encourage you to participate now on behalf of your community.

Wisconsin Task Force Om Creativity

An unprecedented task force, co-chaired by Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton and state Superintendent Libby Burmaster, has released its recommendations for improving arts education and creativity in Wisconsin.

Its recommendations include making sure all students have access to arts and creativity education and revising state school tests and standards to make sure developing creativity is a part of all schools' curriculum. The task force also called for more research to improve arts and creativity education.

The full report is online.