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Message from the Executive Director: The Importance of Arts Education

School is back in session so it couldn't be a more exciting time to launch the Ohio Arts Council's next arts education initiative, Teach Arts Ohio. After visiting a dozen classrooms in recent weeks, I've been recollecting fond memories of my childhood and teenage years. 

There is something about the energy in an elementary school building—everyone is moving, computers are whizzing, music can be heard, and the smell of the paint and clay surrounds. As children become young adults, and embrace the arts as a means to express their individualism, junior and senior high school environments grow even more exciting with band, chorus, and drama—and, in some areas, dance, photography, and other creative disciplines. 

September 13–19 is National Arts in Education Week,  a nationwide celebration that recognizes the importance of the arts in a well-rounded education (perhaps you've seen #ArtsEdWeek popping up on our social media). Lucky for us here in the Buckeye State, every week is arts education week. Through the investment of the governor and state lawmakers, OAC leadership is investing more than $2 million in arts education during the FY 2016-2017 biennium. In addition to our regular portfolio of arts education programs (Arts PartnershipArtist ExpressArtist in Residence, and Big Yellow School Bus), we have launched the Teach Arts Ohio initiative. By reorganizing the OAC’s arts learning program, our agency aims to become more relevant and accessible to teachers, administrators, and artists—all to the benefit of students. 

Teach Arts Ohio is a pilot program that will bring schools and community organizations together with artists to share engaging, personal, and sustainable arts learning experiences. The OAC is investing in arts education through local partnerships with teachers, students, teaching artists, school administrators, and local organizations and businesses in ways that support closing the achievement gap and increasing student engagement in and through the arts. Through Teach Arts Ohio, the OAC is engaging professional teaching artists to work in school districts to supplement the curriculum in K–12 classrooms. 

Teach Arts Ohio provides extended time for residencies (from one semester to a full school year) allowing teaching artists to become an integral part of the learning environment. Teaching artists will collaborate with students, teachers, and community members through in-depth experiences that focus on the creative process of art making, while aligning with academic content standards. 

We'll keep you posted with news and information about our pilot schools as the year moves along. Engaged teachers and students, employed professional teaching artists, fully developed sustainable local partnerships with organizations and businesses, and a positive change for all involved—those are the elements that will help us gauge success within the OAC’s Teach Arts Ohio initiative. 

I'm looking forward to visits in the coming days to Western Local in Latham and Winton Woods in Cincinnati. Your school may be next! 

Until next time, 

Donna S. Collins
 Executive Director




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