Archive for the ‘cultural currency’ tag
Recently, the Wallace Foundation, (an independent, national foundation dedicated to supporting and sharing ideas and practices to expand learning and enrichment opportunities for all people), commissioned the report: “How to Cultivate Demand for the Arts: Arts Learning, Arts Engagement, and State Arts Policy,” by Laura Zakaras and Julia F. Lowell. You can find the report at www.wallacefoundation.org.
The authors of the report argue that in the last few decades, U.S. arts policies have worked on supporting arts programs and making them accessible (supply). However, they go on to discuss that not enough attention has been paid to developing perpetual audiences (demand). Evoking the fundamental law of supply and demand, Zakaras and Lowell illustrate that in order to grow a healthy cultural sector, Americans of all ages need to become lifelong participants in arts and culture. Numerous education research efforts show that students who acquire skills through standards-based arts education, have enriching arts experiences that, then lead to long-term arts involvement. This is the “chicken or the egg?” debate! First, we need the arts, next we need access to the arts and engaged participation. This will create the demand for more arts, and a thriving cultural sector which in turn, boosts our creative economy and leads to more arts!
Zakaras and Lowell point out that U.S. public schools are the primary source of arts learning for young Americans. No other system in our country has the same access to our young, the resources to teach them, and the capability to ensure that they have equal opportunity to learn about and benefit from the arts. Sadly, recent surveys suggest that a significant proportion of schools around the country offer minimal arts education. Both in the 1970s, and early 1990s, school districts across our country reduced their education spending, often by cutting arts specialist positions. Many of these positions have never been restored. In more recent years, general education reforms have shifted the focus to testing reading and mathematics, further eroding arts education. While educators and arts educators in Fort Collins work tirelessly to serve our children with the resources available, in these times of rethinking our very economy, it is imperative to demand MORE comprehensive arts education! This is a gift to our children that will keep on giving!
As parents, grandparents, care givers, aunts, uncles and extended family, we try to balance nutrition and provide education opportunities for the children in our families. Providing access to the arts and culture is not only key to healthy kids, but to their futures, and the future of the communities where they will live and work. We need to demand that they are prepared to fulfill their place in the equation!
This month my family will invest in our futures and Fort Collins! We will celebrate immigration with Grammy Award winning recording artist Dan Zanes, make a pinhole camera together to celebrate World Pinhole Camera Day, and even volunteer to help with frog research. While some programs and events require a fee, most are affordable, and many more are completely free! As a family, we enjoy upholding our end of the Supply/Access/Demand equation! What programs will you use to demonstrate that the cultural sector plays an extremely important part in making Fort Collins a great city? What comes first, the city or the citizen participation, or the city, or the citizen participation! A great place to see the range of possible activities and events for your family is the calendar at beetstreet.com
Whether you choose to enjoy a rockin’ band, explore Natural Areas in Fort Collins, or use a great library location (like the newly opened Council Tree Library in the Front Range Village Shopping Center), make sure that you include arts events and activities to grow your family’s cultural and arts competency! Not just this month, but into their future and beyond! At a time when investment returns seem minimal, publicly engaging in the arts is an investment that will grow!