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Number 1 2013

Engaged and Empowered

The Importance of Arts Education
About this Issue

Whether it was making a pinch pot, performing in a play or dance recital,

National Council on the Arts or singing in the choir, most of us can remember participating in the arts
Joan Shigekawa, Acting Chair
Miguel Campaneria
during our school years. Recent research by James Catterall found that
Bruce Carter we were not just learning dance, music, theater, and visual artshe dis-
Aaron Dworkin
covered that students with access to in-school arts instruction performed
JoAnn Falletta
Lee Greenwood better academically, participated more actively in extracurricular activities,
Deepa Gupta and were more likely to pursue higher education.
Paul W. Hodes
Joan Israelite
Maria Rosario Jackson
In other words, arts education doesnt just teach skills to future practi-
Emil Kang tioners of the arts. It teaches children the creativity, collaboration, and criti-
Charlotte Kessler
cal thinking skills needed to succeed in the 21st century. (You can read the
Mara Lpez De Len
David Mas Masumoto full report here:
Irvin Mayfield, Jr.
Barbara Ernst Prey In this issue of NEA Arts, well visit communities that are ensuring stu-
Frank Price
dents have opportunities to learn in the artscommunities that are put-
Ex-officio ting the Catterall research into action. From turning around failing schools
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) thanks to the Turnaround Arts initiative to promoting musical composition
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) among Hopi and Navajo youth to rigorous dance education in St. Louis,
Rep. Patrick J. Tiberi (R-OH) and to school districts from Austin, Texas, to rural Gates County, North
Appointment by Congressional Carolina, including the arts as part of core curriculum in communities
leadership of the remaining ex-officio
members to the council is pending. across the country is empowering students.

NEA ARTS STAFF In the coming months, the NEA will be unrolling a new plan for arts educa-
Don Ball, Executive Editor tion. By leveraging our investments, driving data collection and research,
Rebecca Gross, Editor
Paulette Beete collaborating with public and private partners for collective impact, and de-
J. Rachel Gustafson veloping strategic leadership, we hope to ensure that every child, in every
Adam Kampe
Jamie McCrary state, is engaged and empowered through an excellent arts education.
Josephine Reed Stay tuned as we announce this exciting new strategy!

Soleil NYC Design

12 Dancing to Success
The Honors Program at
3 The Art of Turning
Things Around
COCA in St. Louis
By Rebecca Gross
PCAHs New Arts
Education Program for 17 MindPOP!
Low-Performing Schools Austin Independent School
By Rebecca Gross Districts Aha! Moment
By Paulette Beete
8 It Takes a Community
Integrating the Arts into
the Learning Process in
21 Composing Enlightenment
Bringing Musical Education to
Rural North Carolina Native-American Communities
By J. Rachel Gustafson By Michael Gallant

NEA Arts 2
The Art
of Turning Things
Around for Low-Performing Schools
PCAHs New Arts Education Program
By Rebecca Gross

Amid the legendary spectacle and A few years ago, Batiste Cultural Arts Acade-
fanfare of Mardi Gras, the Krewe of mythen known as Live Oak Elementarywas
Bacchus parade is known as one of ranked as the lowest-performing school in Loui-
the more extravagant processions. siana, which itself was ranked 49th out of all 50
There are 25 floats, three dozen escorts on states in terms of academic performance. Today,
horseback, and a celebrity king, whose royal du- it is one of eight schools nationwide participat-
ties have been performed by everyone from Will ing in Turnaround Arts, an initiative launched
Ferrell to Hulk Hogan. This year, the marching by the Presidents Committee on the Arts and
band from Batiste Cultural Arts Academy had the Humanities (PCAH) in 2012. The pub-
the honor of performing along the parade route. lic-private partnership, which counts the NEA
While it is by no means unusual for school bands as one of its partners, is designed to help close
to participate in Bacchus, its something close to the academic achievement gap with high quality
a miracle that this particular school found itself and integrated arts education programs. In addi-
front and center, showing off its musical talent and tion to professional training, leadership summits,
fresh uniforms to the entire city of New Orleans. and funding for arts specialists and supplies, each

ABOVE | The Batiste Cultural Arts Academy Marching Band participating in its first Bacchus parade during Mardi Gras 2013.
photo BY James Wanamaker

school is paired with a well-known artist such as path out of poverty. There had been three prin-
Yo-Yo Ma, Kerry Washington, and Alfre Wood- cipals in three years, less than 15 percent of stu-
ard, whose work with students have helped Turn- dents were reading at grade level, and according
around Arts garner national attention. to teacher Glenda Poole, chaos reigned in the
The two-year program was developed in hallways. [There were] children all over the
response to findings from Reinvesting in Arts place, teachers coming in at 8:30 and saying I
Education: Winning Americas Future through cant do this, and at 8:45 they were out, she
Creative Schools, a research report published by remembered. It was just that bad.
PCAH in 2011. The study drew on research that In 2010, with the situation reaching crisis
showed a strong correlation between in-school level, the school was taken over by Louisianas
arts exposure and positive behaviors, including Recovery School District. Batiste was award-
improved academic performance, increased at- ed a School Improvement Grant from the U.S.
tendance, and a higher probability that students Department of Educationa required compo-
will participate in extracurricular activities, at- nent of the Turnaround Arts applicationand
tend college, and later gain employment. These the ReNEW Charter Management Organiza-
positive effects were particularly pronounced in tion was brought in. Working with the legend-
students from low-income, high-minority com- ary Batiste jazz family, ReNEW changed the
munities, who demonstrated the most relative schools name, replaced most of its staff, and
academic improvement when given greater arts began to initiate a culture of accountability
instruction. However, the report also found that among both students and teachers. Although
these same populations were receiving the least optional after-school arts programming was in
amount of in-school arts instruction. In other place from the start, Ron Gubitz, principal for
words, the kids in America who need the arts
the most are getting it the least, said Kathy
Fletcher, director of Turnaround Arts.
In the case of Batiste, which serves grades
K-8, rampant turmoil destroyed any notion that
school could be a safe haven or might offer a

Above | An art class at Savoy Elementary School. Photo by John Pinderhughes, courtesy of Crayola LLC and used with permission
Opposite | Principal Ron Gubitz and actress Alfre Woodard observe a class at Batiste Cultural Arts Academy. Woodard is the
schools designated Turnaround artist. Photo courtesy of PCAH

NEA Arts
Our mission is to build a compassionate community of creative thinkers, leaders,
and lifelong learners who are prepared for success in all future pursuits.

fingerings, Gubitz said of the children learning to

play ukulele. Its actually teaching them multiple
languages that they can bring back to the languag-
grades three to five, said that it wasnt enough es of reading, math, science, and social studies.
to accomplish all that he envisioned. Poole, who teaches eighth-grade reading and
Our mission is to build a compassionate provides coaching for other teachers, describes
community of creative thinkers, leaders, and the recent change in culture as huge. Since
lifelong learners who are prepared for success in 2010, Batiste has achieved a 29-point increase in
all future pursuits, he said. If were going to its state-issued school performance score, and 43
train our kids to just be somebody elses employ- percent of students were reading at grade level
ee, thats fine. We can teach them the basics. But by the end of the 2011 school year, with similar
to teach them to be those creative thinkers and gains in math. Even more promising, 55 percent
leaders, we have to teach them the arts. of students are currently on track to attend col-
Now, with funding and guidance from Turn- lege, up from 21 percent. Kids are doing much
around Arts, Batiste is well on its way to becom- more, were seeing more progress academically
ing a true cultural arts academy. Art and music are for them, and theyre staying in school longer,
essentials, not electives, and are taught toward said Poole. We see the impact.
the end of every afternoon to encourage kids to A thousand miles away in Southeast Wash-
stick around through the school day. Artists are ington, DC, a similar story is unfolding at Sa-
brought in to teach theater or visual arts techniques voy Elementary School. In the year since Turn-
to math, language arts, and science teachers, and around Arts has been in place at Savoy, the
a major donation of art supplies by Crayola was whole world has changed, said Principal Pat-
the difference between being able to buy 100 rick Pope. Pope is a veteran DC Public School
on-level reading books for our lowest-level kids (DCPS) principal who had previously devel-
versus needing to buy art supplies, said Gubitz. oped an intensive arts curriculum at Washing-
Another $10,000 program grant from the Nation- tons Hardy Middle School. When he arrived at
al Association of Music Merchants has stocked Savoy in 2011, he began a similar plan at the
Batiste with ukuleles, recorders, and drums. consistently failing school, where only 20 per-
Maybe its in my head, but I can see their cent of students tested as proficient in reading
brains changing as they try to figure out the chord and 15 percent tested as proficient in math.

Above | The NAMM Foundation spent a day at the Batiste Cultural Arts Academy
providing music lessons and introducing students to different instruments.
Photo by David Aleman, f-stop Photography
RIGHT | The Bastite Cultural Arts Academy Marching Band practicing for its performance
during Mardi Gras. Photo courtesy of PCAH

With the Turnaround Arts designation, Popes

plan has kicked into high gear. On a Thursday
morning last April, one of three dedicated arts
instructors guided children through the musical
alphabet in the keyboard lab; students acted out
a picture book in a classroom-turned-Readers
Theater; and another group performed their
daily song and movement warm-up via Skype for
Kerry Washington, the schools designated Turn- want the children to understand that were using
around artist. Nearly every inch of candy-colored the arts as a vehicle for motivation. Through-
wall space is plastered with student artwork, out the school, there is an emphasis on order,
from collages inspired by Romare Bearden to re- purpose, and respect, a philosophy that affects
interpretations of Jacob Lawrence. everything from the way students walk down the
But Pope is quick to point out that Savoys art hallway (single-file, hands behind their backs),
program is not just a feel-good moment We to the way they interact with teachers (theyre

Arts 6
referrals have also decreased dramatically.
While these are the type of evidentiary statistics
that will likely prove critical to future arts educa-
tion funding, there are other, unmeasurable effects
Savoy students rehearse a choreographed dance to Michael Jacksons
that are just as important, if not more so. Theres
Thriller, which they performed as a flash mob outside the National Portrait a feeling of excitement and joy in these hallways,
Gallery in Washington, DC. Photo courtesy of PCAH
said Fletcher, of the eight Turnaround Arts schools.
expected to listen, and they do). A lot of our kids are facing post-traumatic stress
[Were committed] to making sure that [stu- because they live in high, high poverty. So to
dents] understand that the discipline and focus be able to go into school and have something
that theyre going to learn is not just to carry a that gives them a sense of happiness and confi-
song or dance the Lindy Hop or create a beautiful dencethats what childhood should be about.
masterpiece of visual art, but that those internal Even at Batiste, so recently a poster child of
motivations and those internal self-regulatory as- all that was wrong with the American educa-
pects will play out in the rest of their lives, Pope tion system, this sense of happiness has begun
said. Theyll play out in the math room, in their to spread. As Glenda Poole thought back to
science lesson, and in their reading lesson. Mardi Gras, it was clear that participating in
So far, Popes confidence seems well-founded. Bacchus was a major point of pride not just for
In the past two years, test scores have stopped students but for their teachers. To see them
falling, and teacher retention rate has remained come down the streetthat was really huge for
steady. At a time when DCPS is shuttering 15 us, she said, smiling at the memory. [All the
schools for low enrollment, Savoys own enroll- teachers] got together waiting for them, and
ment is up by 18 percent. The schools suspension the kids were really excited to see us there. It
rate has fallen by 95 percent, and Pope said office was a wonderful thing, thats for sure.

All photos by Michelle Mazan Burrows

Integrating the Arts into the Learning

Process in Rural North Carolina By J. Rachel Gustafson
T h e m or n i n g b e l l r i n g s at Gatesvi lle growing network of schools across the nation
E l e m e n ta r y i n r u r a l Gat es County, participating in the A+ Schools Program, which
N o r t h Car o l i n a , w h i c h a p proxim ate- integrates the arts into the learning process.
ly 1 2 , 20 0 r e s i d e n t s c a l l home and The nationally recognized pioneer arts edu-
W h e r e n e a r ly a q u a r t e r o f the popu- cation program has been incorporated into two
l at i o n l i v e S b e l o w t h e p o v erty li ne. of Gates Countys five public schools, Gates-
Students gather in their classrooms, attendance is ville Elementary and T.S. Cooper Elementary.
taken, homework is collected, and everyone set- Building on the success of those two schools in
tles in for a day of learning. But rather than re- providing a broad, integrated, arts-based curric-
turn to their desks for a day of academic lecture, ulum that engages and motivates the students,
students will spend the school hours exploring Gates County, with the help of a recent NEA
geometry through dance, the water cycle through grant, will begin the A+ Schools training process
a painting, and a new book through sculpture. for the districts three remaining schools.
These students and their teachers are part of a The University of North Carolinas Thomas

NEA Arts 8
S. Kenan Institute for the Arts launched the A+ initiative will be published by the NEA in sum-
Schools Program in 1995. The concept was ambi- mer 2013.) The arts council determined during
tious: develop a program for comprehensive school that session that continuing to grow A+ schools
reform that uses the arts as an interactive vehicle in the state would benefit students and the com-
for teaching and learning across all subjects. Under munityand bringing in all the schools in Gates
the leadership of the North Carolina Arts Council, County is part of that strategy.
the A+ Program has grown to a network of more Michelle Burrows, director of the A+ Schools
than 40 schools across the state and has provided Program at the North Carolina Arts Council, has
more than 10,000 teachers with training. The pro- seen first-hand the powerful impacts of the arts
gram has also recently launched into other states. in the classroom. We are looking at the arts in
Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas have their three ways: arts education, arts integration, and
own A+ School Programs in place, for a grand to- arts exposure, said Burrows. We often hear
tal of 120 A+ schools across the nation. people say theres a hum, or a buzz, when you
The A+ Schools Program was one aspect of walk into an A+ school because the kids are so
North Carolina Arts Councils accomplishments active in their learning.
during their participation in the NEAs first In Gates County, that buzz has grown into a
class of the Education Leaders Institute (ELI) in powerful force. Over the last three years, both
2008. For four years, ELI has brought together Gatesville Elementary School and T.S. Cooper
artists, educators, policymakers, and communi- Elementary School have primarily shown in-
ty and school leaders for a three-day institute creased student achievement in both math and
to challenge assumptions and strategize on how reading. Both schools performed between six to
to advance the arts as part of a comprehensive 14 percent higher in reading and approximately
education (a report on lessons learned from the seven percent higher in math when compared to

Above | T.S. Cooper Elementary in Gates County, North Carolina, participates in the A+ Schools Program to integrate the arts into core curriculum.
Opposite | T.S. Cooper Elementary kindergartners experience math concepts by creating original artwork in the style of the artist Henri Matisse.
Above | At A+ schools, teachers create an arts-rich learning environment, such as the dance class shown.
Opposite | Gatesville Elementary teachers build their team through arts-enriched, collaborative A+ professional development experiences.

statewide North Carolina school performance lev- bring the arts experiences to them.
els. Over the next two years, the A+ Schools Pro- To become an A+ school, each institutions
gram will serve as many as 1,200 Gates County faculty participates in the Five-Day Institute. Led
students and 115 faculty members. Once the three by A+ Fellowspracticing classroom teachers
remaining schools in the county complete their A+ and specialists, administrators, teaching artists,
training, the countys public school system will be and writersthe institute provides intensive and
the first district in North Carolina to include all of inspiring professional development for teachers.
its schools in the A+ School network. We tailor our training for the specifications
Teaching North Carolinas required curricu- of each individual school and we make sure to
lum in A+ Schools involves a collaborative, mul- have complete buy-in from the entire school
tidisciplinary approach that weaves the arts into community, said Burrows. The whole faculty
every aspect of a childs learning. According to is involved and has agreed to participate before
Barry Williams, superintendent of Gates County the training ever begins. Weve even had bus
Schools, the A+ whole-school reform model not drivers and cafeteria workers participate. What
only offers unprecedented opportunity for arts it boils down to is the size of the community.
access but also allows students to use the arts The smaller the community, the more impact
as an intellectual compass. Integrating the arts those support staff have on the school. Every-
into the curriculum in rural schools allows the body is working for those kids.
teachers to reach more of their students in more Williams agreed. There is much truth to
ways, said Williams. The use of music, art, the age-old saying: It takes a village to raise a
theater, dance, and media to teach the state-man- child. Similarly, it truly takes a community to
dated curriculum will allow for a higher level help complete a school, he said. In a rural
of student engagement. We cannot always take community, the importance of the partnership
the children to the arts experiences, but we can is heavily underscored. By banding together to

NEA Arts 10
support their school, the strength of the commu- observe as I teach their students from the begin-
nity increases. In a rural areawhere families live ning to end as the children create a movement
spread out on farms, small neighborhoods, and vil- product based on a concept that the teachers
lageshaving a shared stake in their communitys would typically be teaching. We debrief as part-
school provides a way for there to be more com- ners and there is a real dialogue.
mon ground that crosses socio-economic lines. In their report, Reinvesting in Arts Education:
After completing the initial training cours- Winning Americas Future Through Creative
es at the programs Five-Day Institute, teach- Schools, the Presidents Committee on the Arts
ers from Buckland Elementary School, Central and the Humanities recognizes North Caroli-
Middle School, and Gates County High School nas A+ program as an effective, research-based
will be provided with ongoing, high-quality pro- strategy for sustainable school reform. The re-
fessional development over a three-year period. port notes that the program has shown consis-
A+ Fellows continue to offer both professional tent gains in student achievement, the schools
development support and in-classroom instruc- engagement of parents and community, as well as
tion for A+ teachers and faculty during each other measures of learning and success through-
schools three-year training program. out 12 years of research findings. The school-
Joan Certa-Moore is one of North Carolinas wide value of the A+ system has also shown to
A+ Fellows. A trained dancer and veteran arts ed- benefit higher proportions of disadvantaged and
ucator with 29 years of experience, she believes minority students as research indicates an equal
the A+ Program is one of the healthiest ways to performance level of disadvantaged A+ students
learn, for teachers and students alike. She also when compared to more advantaged schools.
stresses the importance of the programs contin- But beyond test scores, A+ Schools are teaching
ued professional development, which has proven one of the most important skills needed to succeed
to be a major contributor to A+s success. in the 21st century: creativity. As teachers find new
With the A+ professional development, you avenues to engage and motivate their classrooms,
have practitioners teaching other practitioners students are learning the out-of-the-box thinking
in what is a very powerful and affirming expe- that is so valued in todays creative economy. With
rience of collaborating with other like-minded the A+ arts model as their academic companion,
public educators, said Certa-Moore. We work the future for A+ Gates County students is what-
with the teachers both in and out of the class- ever their imagination holds.
room. They invite us in their teaching space and
A chieving success in the
arts can be a matter
of grit, determination, pa-
tience, and talent. Unfortu-
nately, it can also be a matter of
money. To become a professional
dancer, for instance, requires years
of dance lessons, shoes, tights, and
leotards, all of which come with a
price tag. Students will also need to
get themselves to and from dance class,
which can be problematic if a family
lacks a car or lives beyond the reach of
public transportation. For children living
in low-income communities, these obstacles
often prove to be insurmountable.

Dancing t The Honors Program a

NEA Arts 12
to Success
at COCA in St. Louis % By Rebecca Gross

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theaters Antonio Douthit in Alvin Aileys Revelations. Photo by Gert Krautbauer

COCA alumnus Antonio Douthit, now with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, works with COCA student company members. Douthit
returns to COCA annually to teach COCA students during a two-week residency. Photo courtesy of COCA

But in St. Louis, Missouri, the Center of Cre- St. Louis public schools. Throughout the three-
ative Arts (COCA) aims to level the playing field year program, TIP students receive all classes
for children who wish to pursue the arts. Found- free-of-charge, and are also provided with dance-
ed in 1986, COCA offers classes and in-school wear and door-to-door van transportation.
workshops across all artistic disciplines, from At the age of 12, TIP participants are invited
visual arts and theater to voice and writing. Al- to audition for COCAs Honors Program, which
though sliding-scale financial aid is available for offers training at a pre-professional level to
recreational art classes, the centers dance pro- roughly 50 students an academic year. Through-
grams in particular are designed to ensure that out the years, the Honors Program has received
all students have access to professional path- numerous NEA grants, as well as a 2003 Com-
ways, regardless of their background. ing Up Taller Award (now called the National
Many students that were working with Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards)
dont have the opportunity to go beyond a ten- presented by then-First Lady Laura Bush. Al-
block radius within their neighborhoods, said though the Honors Program is open to all income
Kelly Pollock, executive director of COCA. To levels, COCA provides scholarships, transporta-
bring them into a community of intentional tion, and dancewear as needed, in addition to
learners who are passionate and have respect academic tutoring, ACT preparation, and assis-
and a sense of discipline opens their eyes that tance with college applications and auditions. As
they can be successful, that there are more possi- a result, 100 percent of Honors students have
bilities than they thought imaginable, and that if gone on to post-secondary study. Working with
they work hard and commit themselves, they re- the organization College Bound, the center has
ally can achieve whatever it is they want in life. extended its support throughout students college
When it comes to dance, this commitment be- careers to make sure they stay the course.
gins at an early age. The Talent Identified Pro- The Honors Program is directed by the end-
gram (TIP) offers a rigorous trajectory for 9-11 lessly enthusiastic Lee Nolting, who has taught
year olds who have shown promise in dance dance at COCA for 25 years and leads one of
during COCAs outreach work with underserved the centers three student dance companies.

NEA Arts 14
Noltings work with high-risk youth began in Douthit remembered. But they didnt, instead con-
the 1980s, when she lived and taught dance in vincing the instructor to let them follow along
East St. Louis, one of the regions rougher areas. from the back of the room. By the end of class,
I got a chance to see what those kids lives were the teacher had sensed a spark, and invited them
like: the single parents, the parents who didnt to return despite their horseplay. While the oth-
come to pick up their kids because they were in ers laughed the suggestion off, Douthit did come
the crack house, the kids who didnt have lunch, back, although this time on his own.
she remembered. She also saw how transforma- Within a month, he was guided to COCA,
tional dance could be, which inspired her to help where it took Nolting a total of one class to
launch the Honors Program a few years after she realize Douthits potential. She marched him
arrived at COCA. As she said, This is a pro- to the office of Stephanie Riven, then COCAs
gram that is run by passion: [students] passion executive director, and explained that the teen
to want opportunity, and our passion to try and needed a scholarship so he could participate in
make sure that they have accessibility and the the Honors Program. Although Riven had never
opportunities that every child should have. seen him dance, Douthit was offered free tuition
For Honors students like Antonio Douth- on the spot. He went on to graduate from high
it, these opportunities can prove life-changing. schoolthe first in his family to do soand at-
Douthit grew up in what he described as not the tended the North Carolina School of the Arts
best neighborhoods, and as a young boy spent before leaving to join the Dance Theatre of Har-
time living in transitional housing and a church. lem. In 2004, he became a member of the Al-
But when he was 16, he serendipitously discovered vin Ailey American Dance Theater, one of the
his talent for dance. One afternoon, when he and a worlds premiere modern dance companies.
few friends heard music coming from a community I am what I am today because of that schol-
center, they went to investigate. There they discov- arship, said Douthit, who doubts he would have
ered a dance class in session, and perhaps as is typ-
ical for teenage boys, decided to interrupt it.
[The teacher] asked us to leave several times,

Lee Nolting teaches a summer workshop at COCA. Photo courtesy of COCA

achieved his current level of professional success students in a piece honoring Black History Month,
without free tuition. He also credits dance with and Rodney Hamilton, the centers first scholar-
motivating him to graduate high school, since ship student, has used time off from Ballet Hispan-
most dance companies require a high school ico to lead master classes.
diploma in order to audition. Arts give kids a But even for students who do not pursue dance
sense of purpose, and for me COCA gave me professionally, the Honors Program has proven
that sense of purpose, he said. beneficial. The true purpose of arts education is
Despite his touring schedule, Douthit re- not necessarily to create more professional danc-
turns to COCA every January to choreograph ers or artists, said Pollock. [Its] to create more
and teach, and remains in touch with many complete human beings who are critical thinkers,
staff members and alumni. When COCA stu- who have curious minds, who can lead produc-
dents find themselves in New York for auditions tive lives. She cited the discipline needed to attend
or summer workshops, Douthit has also been daily training, the confidence and poise needed to
known to open his home and let them crash. perform onstage, the motivation to practice until
I feel like [because COCA] gave me the op- you land the leading role, and the humility and
portunity without really knowing what was go- good sportsmanship to accept it when you dont.
ing to happen with me, I should give back to Nolting echoed Pollocks belief that these sec-
other kids, said Douthit of his continued in- ondary skills are as important, if not more so, than
volvement with the program. You never know proper form and technique. Even if they dont
what thats going to do for someone. become professional dancers, they become so suc-
Other alumni have become equally accom- cessful as individuals in whatever theyre doing,
plished, and have gone on to dance with the the she said of her former students, some of whom
Houston Ballet, on Broadway, and with hip-hop have gone on to achieve success at Princeton (grad-
artists such as Usher and Ne-Yo. Like Douthit, uating with a degree in physics), Columbia Univer-
many of them also return to COCA. Christopher sity Medical School, and the Brooklyn Academy of
Page, now a member of the Cleo Parker Robinson Music. Its an incredible feeling to know that you
Dance Ensemble, annually choreographs COCA helped someone be the best that they could be.

Rodney Hamilton leads a master class at COCA. Hamilton was the first scholarship student accepted into COCAs Honors Program.
Photo courtesy of COCA

NEA Arts 16
Austin Independent School Districts Aha! Moment
g By Paulette Beete h
Is the presence of fine arts teach- acterized arts-rich schools as ones that pro-
mote, teach, and celebrate creativity as the focal
ers in a school enough to guar-
point of instruction and learning in all classes.
antee that all students are re- He added that putting creativity at the center of
ceiving a quality arts education? learning resulted in higher student and faculty
That was the question facing the Austin Indepen-
attendance, higher promotion rates, fewer disci-
dent School District (AISD), an urban district in
pline problems, and an increase in parental sup-
Texas with more than 86,000 K-12 students in
port and community engagement.
2009. Despite Austins reputation as an arts city,
Brent Hasty, executive director of the nonprofit
and a commitment to hiring fine arts teachers for
MindPOP and a clinical professor in social stud-
all of its schools, it seemed that some students
ies education at the University of Texas, agreed.
werent reaping the potential benefits of an arts
According to Hasty, An arts-rich school does not
education: increased participation, fewer absenc-
only teach kids in deep ways about an art form,
es, and better standardized test scores. AISD Su-
but it also uses some of the arts-based instructional
perintendent Meria Castarphen decided the solu-
strategies in other places that are not about teach-
tion was to do more than just deliver a basic arts
ing the art form at all. In other words, traditional
education. She wanted to create arts-rich schools
arts activities such as role-playing can take place in
in which creative learning extended across all
history class as well as theater class.
classrooms regardless of subject matter, and took
To work toward the task of defining and cre-
place outside as well as inside each schools walls.
ating arts-rich schools in Austin, local funders
Greg Goodman, AISDs fine arts head, char-
and Castarphen asked Hasty to convene com-
Above | MindPOP partner Drama for Schools/UT Austin uses shadow puppetry to teach drama-based strategies to Austin public
school teachers. Photo courtesy of Drama for Schools

munity stakeholders. He assembled a communi- ering high-quality programs, they didnt have
ty-wide working group to uncover the reasons the evaluation background to know if they were
the districts current arts education plan wasnt making a difference. Hasty cited professional
working as well as it should. Partners included development as the third barrier: Our general
the school district, city offices such as Parks and classroom teachers didnt always have access to
Recreation and the Cultural Arts Division, local how to use arts integration or arts-based strate-
philanthropies, and arts organizations such as gies. Finally, the district lacked a single channel
VSA Texas and Ballet Austin. for directing teachers, parents, and other stake-
The group eventually outlined four catego- holders to the communitys available resources.
ries of barriers to success, the first of which was After the working group teased out the chal-
equity and access. They discovered that whether lenges they needed to address, they recognized
a student was in a so-called poor school, or a MindPOP as a nonprofit hub for stakeholder col-
rich one, there were actually other factors that laboration and to oversee the strategic planning
played a role in restricting the students arts process. Goodman described MindPOPnamed
education experience. For example, Hasty ex- for the moment in learning when everything
plained, kids who were struggling academically clicksas an avenue for the district, city,
often were pulled out of arts classes. A second community artists, philanthropists, and higher
set of barriers fell under the heading of impact education to join resources and knowledge to
and measurement, which, according to Hasty, create a powerful team of stakeholders in order
meant that even if arts organizations were deliv- to move student achievement in Austin ISD.

Above | Creative Action, another MindPOP partner, works with Austin students. Photo courtesy of Creative Action
Opposite | VSA Texas leads students in a drum circle. Photo courtesy of VSA Texas

NEA Arts 18
sional development. They
also took an inventory of
the citys arts resources:
How many minutes per
week did the students re-
ceive instruction in specif-
ic arts disciplines? How
much arts integration was
exhibited in academic
subject classrooms? How
were community partners
involved at each grade
level? Hasty noted that
local educators were high-
ly invested in the process.
We had about two-thirds
of the general classroom
teachers respond to the
In 2011, Austin was chosen to participate in survey, which is pretty
the Kennedy Centers Any Given Child initia- amazing. We had 100 percent compliance with
tive, which through intensive consultation ser- the principals; they highly valued the arts.
vices works with school districts in selected loca- After the nine-month process, MindPOP
tions across the country to develop tailor-made, leveraged the data into an ambitious plan to
long-term arts education strategies. Austin is the transform the learning environments of Austins
seventh city to participate in the initiative, with schools. Hasty explained, Our plan is really
MindPOP acting as the main contact. looking at the three legs of the school, making
After an extensive literature review, MindPOP sure that theres access to fine arts learning in
undertook a comprehensive research effort to and out of school, that teachers have access to
mine data specific to the community. That data arts-based instructional strategies to use in their
revealed that individual students who were high- classrooms, and that there are connections to
ly engaged in the arts showed higher attendance the community for kids in their families to arts
rates and did significantly better on statewide organizations, to all of the places in the commu-
standardized tests. Even students in high-poverty nity where we know arts learning is happening.
schools performed better academically if they were The new strategy, as outlined in an October
engaged in the arts. While these types of statistics 2012 Any Given Child Summary Report, compris-
from other communities were familiar to many in es five goals: to increase creative learning moments
the arts education field, it made a major impact for students in and out of school; create arts-rich
on local leaders to see similar results from Austins schools for each and every student; create a com-
own kids. Now we have people who might not munity network that supports and sustains the
have the same confidence [as the arts community] arts-rich life of every child; develop leaders and
that the arts could solve these other issues for them systems that support and sustain quality creative
and [now want] to use this strategy in closing the learning for the development of the whole child;
achievement gap or keeping kids in school or get- and demonstrate measurable impacts on students,
ting kids ready for college and career, said Hasty. families, schools, and the Austin community.
MindPOP also surveyed 108 K-8 principals, Ultimately, the focus of the new strategic plan
1,553 classroom teachers, 330 fine arts special- is engagementstudents who are more engaged
ists, and 53 Austin arts organizations, asking with learning, educators who are more engaged
about everything from arts funding to profes- with teaching, and a community that is engaged

provide you some professional development.
Various types of empowering activities sup-
port the other goals of the arts education stra-
tegic plan. For one thing, its become more fully
embedded in the citys own strategic plan for
the cultural community, Create Austin, which
charts a course for cultural development over
the next ten years in the city. This opened up
further opportunities for collaboration among
city offices in support of arts education. Were
trying to build the kind of advocacy that we
need and really building the leadership to sup-
port it across all of the sectors, said Hasty.
Paramount Theatre, another MindPOP partner, also uses Were doing innovative thingslike Mind-
drama-based arts strategies to teach Austin students. POP has funded part of a development position
Photo courtesy of Paramount Theatre
in the school district to help them build their
with supporting the success of the next generation. capacity to raise money for the arts.
A significant element of the revamp is intensive Given all the moving parts, so to speak, it
professional development for classroom teachers. may be a full decade before the plan is fully op-
All of our campuses commit to two half-day, full erational. Hasty, however, remains optimistic
faculty trainings where we teach them how, when, about its success, especially in light of the high
and why to use arts-based strategies. Not only degree of collaboration and cooperation that
are the teachers given a toolbox of strategies to has characterized the project so far. One of
use, but theyre taught how each strategy changes the most exciting things is thinking about the
given the goal of an assignment. For example, is it work we have to do to achieve our plan, and
a hook to get the students interested in a topic, or each of those different entities saying, I can do
is it being used as an assessment to find out what this part. It makes sense for me to do this part.
the students have learned? Hasty added, We de- It makes sense for you to do that part. And its
cided to do an instructional approach, rather than really collective impact at a functional level.
a curricular approach. In other words, teachers
dont receive prescribed lesson plans. Instead, they
can take the approaches theyve learned and apply
them to any lesson plan.
One example Hasty gave was using theater to
help a social studies class look at the complexity
of the colonization of the Americas. Traditional-
ly, students would get the point-of-view of both
sides but not necessarily gain an understanding
that encompassed the dynamic between both
sides. Using role-playing, however, students lit-
erally embody that dynamic, gaining a deeper
understanding of both sides of the conflict.
Hasty noted that by supplying teachers with
tools rather than lesson plans, theres no resistance
of the I dont have time for this variety. Teach-
ers also receive support at the district level. The
question is, How well are you doing it, and do The media arts, through Austin Film Society, are another arts-based
you need any help? And if you need help, we can strategy used in Austin. Photo courtesy of Austin Film Society

NEA Arts 20
Bringing Musical Education to
Native-American Communities

By Michael Gallant

When I was a teenager, I felt stuck offer strong arts programs for their students.
o n t h e r e s e r v a t i o n , s a y s M i c h a e l As part of NACAP, world-class string quar-
B e g ay, a 2 8 - y e a r - o l d c o m p o s e r o f tets like ETHEL and the Catalyst Quartet per-
Na v a j o h e r i ta g e w h o g r e w u p i n form for schools on Navajo and Hopi reserva-
A r i z o n a . It felt like I was ten years behind tions and serve as resident artists. Students from
the whole world. I had no idea what to do with those same schools collaborate with resident
my life and I wanted to quit school. I could feel NACAP composers, embarking on a rigorous
this whole void opening on top of me. three-week program that gives them the theoret-
Begays bleak perspective changed dramat- ical and practical tools with which to compose
ically, though, when the librarian at his high their own music. Selected students works are
school, Greyhills Academy in Tuba City, turned then performed for the public as part of the an-
him on to a new opportunitythe Native Amer- nual Grand Canyon Music Festival season.
ican Composer Apprentice Project (NACAP). Begay participated in NACAP for multiple
Started in 2000 as an outreach initia- years, and has become the first alumnus to return
tive from the Grand Canyon Music Festival, as a composer-in-residence. However, his transfor-
NACAP seeks to bring musical inspiration mative experience with the program is far from
and education to rural Native communities, unique. Native-American students across Arizona
many of which dont have the resources to and Utah have benefitted immensely from the pro-

ABOVE | Michael Begay (second from left) working with the ETHEL String Quartet as part of the NACAP activities to bring musical
education to Native-American communities. Photo courtesy of NACAP

Students (including Russell Goodluck, second from left) from Chinle High School, the largest high school within the Navajo Nation in
Arizona, participating in the NACAP program. Photo by Clare Hoffman

grams musical apprenticeships, not only gaining thats accessible, achievable, and real.
musical knowledge and creative confidence, but Teaching high school students to compose mu-
also giving new voice to their cultural heritage. sic in a mere three weeks may sound like a daunt-
Russell Goodluck, 20, first discovered ing task, but in NACAPs 13 years of existence,
NACAP in 2006 as a freshman at Chinle High both students and resident composers have con-
School in Arizona. ETHEL performed at a tinuously risen to the occasion. As the programs
school assembly and the young man was, in his teachers guide their young apprentices through
own words, hooked. I had never composed the basics of music, students own creativity is al-
music before seeing ETHEL. I didnt know any- lowed to flourish. [The teachers] helped us edit
thing about bass clef, viola clef, or how a string our music and make sure that everything would
quartet worked. I was totally clueless. But after be playable by world-class musicians, down to the
seeing ETHEL perform, I knew that I wanted to last pitch and rhythm, but the ideas were ours,
dedicate myself to being a musician. said Mitchell. In one week we learned every-
Kevin Mitchell, also a former student at thing from treble clef and time signatures down to
Chinle, recalls a similar experience. When I saw sharps and flats, dynamics, and articulations. That
them playing at the school, I wondered, Who are was a big lesson, he added laughing.
these guys? What are they doing here? When I Although NACAP focuses on teaching the
saw other students introduce themselves and tell fundamentals of Western classical music, Na-
us that they had written music for the quartet, it tive roots are never far from the programs
blew my mind. How did I not know about this? work. Many students benefit by learning from
Clare Hoffman, artistic director for the Grand fellow Native Americans, such as compos-
Canyon Music Festival, has been thrilled to see ers-in-residence like Begay, head composer
the enthusiasm and growth of NACAP students Raven Chacon, and Brent Michael Davids, a
like Mitchell and Goodluck. Reservation com- co-founder of the program. The students own
munities can be incredibly isolated, and the stu- heritage also plays a key role in the creative
dents that we work with have no frame of refer- process. The integration happens automat-
ence when it comes to writing music for a format ically and subconsciously, described Begay.
like string quartet, she said. What weve tried The students may not even realize it, but the
to do is solve this tremendous problem of access, rhythmic structures that they use can sound
to make music composition not this thing in an like a Round Dance. One student who came
ivory tower that you cant do, but something from a ranch had his horses hoof-beats in his

NEA Arts 22
piece. Some students use tones or melodies life. In addition to his work with NACAP, he
from corn-grinding songs in their pieces. studies at Din College and is vice president of
Some of these pieces come across like ances- his campus student body. Once he earns his de-
tral voices speaking, but without any conscious gree, he plans to attend another Arizona univer-
thought on the part of the composer. Its not like sity to further study music composition.
theyre trying to make their music sound Native, Similarly, Goodluck plans to pursue a mas-
he continued. It just seems to come naturally. ters degree or PhD in music education while
Native-American instruments have also concurrently learning about music composition
become part of NACAPs creative alchemy, at and music therapy. He was also recently invit-
times melding with the traditional string quar- ed to participate in the Moab Music Festival
tet to create a different flavor of cross-cultural in Utah as a guest artist and attributes his as-
work. Last year, I played as a guest artist with pirations and successes to his experience with
ETHEL on Native-American flute, said Good- NACAP. Its a really, really good program and
luck. We performed an improvised song here Im honored to be part of it, he said. It brings
in Tempe, Arizona. Thats also what Im work- such enlightenment to many Navajos and other
ing on right now, he continued. Im trying to reservation kids. I could see myself coming back
write music for my flute and possibly a string as a composer-in-residence someday.
orchestra or symphony orchestra. For Mitchell, one of the greatest benefits
NACAPs success has earned the program na- of his experience was a fundamental shift in
tional attention, including an Arizona Governors self-perception. It was amazing to know that
Arts Award for Arts in Education, support from I wrote a music piece for a world-class string
the National Endowment for the Arts, and a 2011 quartet, and to see my music played by them was
National Arts and Humanities Youth Program so inspirational, encouraging, and profound,
Award, presented by First Lady Michelle Obama. said Mitchell. It was mostly just profound to
But on a local level, the program continues to give know that a random kid like me from a small
back to its participants, benefitting them long after reservation town could get an opportunity to
their official apprenticeships draw to a close. experience something like that. It was the great-
Begay, for example, credits his NACAP ex- est opportunity Ive ever had in my life.
perience not just with teaching him about music, Michael Gallant is a composer, musician, and writer living
but also instilling him with a sense of discipline, in New York City. He is the founder and CEO of Gallant Music
both in his creative work and in his everyday

A member of ETHEL, the string quartet-in-residence, works with a student at the Navajo Nation city of Tuba City, Arizona.
Photo by Clare Hoffman

The artist Inocente at work. Photo by Rob Tobin

he cover painting is by Inocente, the subject of the Acad-
emy Award-winning short documentary Inocente by Sean
Fine and Andrea Nix Fine. The film follows her life as
a 15-year-old undocumented immigrant with a troubled
family life through San Diegos overcrowded homeless shelters, and
how art helps her overcome her bleak surroundings. As part of our
online content for this issue, which you can find by scanning the QR
code or visiting, we talk with Inocente, now 19, about the
importance of art and how it changed her life. Other online features
include a look at how different art-based schools approach the con-
cept of arts integration; an interview with high school teacher Jack
Scott about his use of rap music to connect his students with math;
the Cultural Crossroads program at Holter Museum of Art in Hele-
na, Montana, which brings visual artists to local schools; and more.

Dont forget to check out our Art Works Blog (

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