The Arts Education Partnership (AEP) became a center within Education Commission of the States late last year. As part of its mission, AEP is committed to elevating the meaningful work of its 100+ partner organizations. AEP serves to communicate the power of arts in education, collaborate on new research and policy solutions, convene national experts and thought leaders and connect its partners and the field to useful and timely information to build support for arts as part of a well-rounded education.
In recent months, AEP staff have had the fortunate opportunity to experience first-hand the incredible work going on in our nation’s schools and communities by its partner organizations. In early fall, national experts convened in Denver to highlight partner work at sessions at the AEP National Forum. This national convening also provided a platform to connect AEP partner organizations to the Denver arts stakeholders and the breadth of education policy expertise that Education Commission of the States brings to AEP. You can find great forum resources on our website.
AEP partner organizations are convening their own respective meetings across the nation to address the importance of arts in education and AEP has been lucky enough to be included in many of these events. In November, a New Jersey Education Thought Leaders’ Summit was held to explore the role of the arts in ESSA’s well-rounded education. Massachusetts Art Education Association hosted their fall conference at Lesley University and focused on the theme of redefining arts education in the state. Furthermore, the National Guild for Community Arts Education gathered for its annual conference in Chicago at the same time the city itself was in the midst of the World Series. There was wonderful energy among participants discussing more equitable access to arts education. The excitement of the Chicago Cubs claiming victory after a long 71-year drought seemed to provide inspiration that anything was possible for the arts in shaping the future.
In a final example, the President’s Commission on the Arts and Humanities held their National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards event at the White House one week after the presidential election. Great curiosity and compassion filled the air as First Lady Michelle Obama and Chairman Jane Chu of the National Endowment for the Arts conferred honors to outstanding after-school and out- of-school programs (many of which are supported by AEP partner organizations) that are enriching the lives of young people.
In the coming weeks, AEP staff look forward to continuing involvement with partner organizations who include us in their endeavors. We seek to understand the work, make connections with complementary projects and partner organizations and share the great successes that are underway.