Monday, December 5, 2016

Art Stories as Advocacy

Did you know that NAEA is posting a new "Art Story" every Monday?  These videos "feature NAEA members sharing their stories of how visual art has impacted their lives, continues to shape their futures, and enables them to change lives of others in the process".  That means these videos are excellent advocacy tools!

Click here to see this week's Art Story, by Sharon Ciccone, the president-elect of NYSATA, the state organization here in NY.

Or you can click here to see the Tell Your Art Story archive.  Check these videos out; you won't be disappointed!!

Youth Art Month - flag contest and more!

March is Youth Art Month, but you can start planning ahead now.  As a matter of fact, entries for the Youth Art Month Flag Contest here in NY state are due December 16th!!  Here's a link to the NYSATA website YAM page, which in turn contains links to all the forms and also all the info you could possibly need.  But you have to work fast to enter!  The deadline is less than 2 weeks away!!

Below is the Sargent Art YAM promotional poster.  Thank you, Sargent Art, for your support of YAM and what it stands for!

Here's a link to a YAM (Youth Art Month) PowerPoint
that was shared at the recent NYSATA convention in November.  The PowerPoint contains lots of great ideas for promoting YAM in your school, and lots of info about the flag contest, too, as well as the Legislative Show, and much much more.  BUT, I want to note that there is an incorrect link in the PowerPoint.  So again, the correct link to get to the NYSATA Youth Art Month page on the NYSATA website is  There's so much there for you!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Upcoming advocacy events and workshops at NYSATA convention!

Today's post is especially for readers from NY state, and is written by Donnalyn Shuster, a frequent contributer to this blog.  Thanks, Donnalyn!

NYSATA’s 68th annual conference is just days away!  
With over 100 workshops being offered, it is a good idea to develop your game plan of interests before arriving on site.  Advocacy and community interaction with the arts is a popular workshop topic this year and for your benefit – here is a collection of my favorite picks of advocacy oriented and advocacy related events for you:

Put The Power of Art to Work for You With Youth Art Month 
Become a powerful advocate for your program by participating in Youth Art Month events. Learn how YAM can build visibility for your art classes, plus see other successful programs around the state. Become a part of the award winning YAM team in New York! Donnalyn Shuster, Heather McCutcheon, Julia Lang-Shapiro (4 – 4:40 Friday – Town Hall Amphitheater)  AND…stop by our booth to meet your State Chairs and learn more about our new theme UNITY THROUGH ART!!

Art and Advocacy: Service Learning In Action 
How can you engage students in meaningful service learning projects? Learn how graduate art education students from SUNY Oswego collaborated with ARISE, a local nonprofit that advocates for people with disabilities, to create a painted and (portable!) mural. Gigina Long, Jacquelyn Kibbey, Kelly Allen, Kathryn Alonso-Bergevin

Become an Art Ed Advocate 
This workshop will show you how to become an art education advocate. My NAEA Webinar home/naea-webinar-recap. Eric Gibbons, Dongkui Lin
And some more workshops with a strong focus on community interaction, classroom collaboration, that lend themselves to great advocacy projects.

Full Steam To The Olympics... of The Visual ArtsNYSATA Style
The Olympics of the Visual Arts NYSATA Program will be celebrating its 35th anniversary year this fall. Be a part of the excitement! Learn about the many ways to involve your teachers and students in this creative problem solving design-thinking program. Category examples will be shared, and networking across the state is encouraged. Anne Manzella, Roger Hyndman

“Reimagining The Four Freedoms”: Explore The Meaning of Freedom In The 21st Century
 This is a perfect example of tradition meeting innovation. Celebrate the 75th anniversary of FDR’s “Four Freedoms” speech, by examining a regional effort connecting a Studio Art lesson to the Norman Rockwell Museum and iconic works by the commercial illustrator. Anne Manzella, Sheila Elario

Connecting to Community: Art Education and Community Engagement
 The Carnegie Foundation recognizes SUNY Buffalo State as a Community Engagement Campus. This session highlights how art education pre-service teachers, graduate students, alumni, and faculty are actively engaged in longterm and meaningful community-based projects. Teacher candidates and teachers foster a sense of agency that is passed along to PK-12 students. Candace Masters, Alice Pennisi

Creating Community Based, Arts Focused Partnerships with Urban Schools: Redhouse Arts Center and Syracuse City School District.
 At Redhouse Arts Center, we believe art has the power to build community and change lives. Come and learn about our collaborative partnership with the Syracuse City School District. In our model, teaching artists from Redhouse push into five SCSD elementary schools daily. Teaching artists provide instruction in curriculum that uses the arts to teach math, science, social studies, and English. We currently engage over 2,200 SCSD students from diverse backgrounds in theater, music, and the visual arts. Our model provides exemplars on program development, facilitating and sustaining community partnerships, and working with diverse populations of students and families. Participants at our session can expect to hear first-hand accounts from SCSD teachers and teaching fellows about what participation is like for them. We will also share helpful information including lessons learned along the way. Additionally, participants will receive curricular resources (aligned with NYS CCLS and NYS Arts Standards) and ideas/ suggestions for program replication. Hannah Samara

The Power of Art
The Lab School of Washington and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation collaborated to provide a highly successful approach to teaching students with learning differences through an arts-based curriculum that is transferable to all classrooms of diverse learners. Learn how this organization empowers arts educators and school leaders to be persuasive voices in the national conversation about the critical relevance of the arts in the education for all children in all subjects. Dr. Susan Lane

Creative Cure for The Common Core – Go Urban
Take your observational drawing lessons to the next level. Get your students out into the community with Urban Sketching. Drawing, painting, architecture, perspective, math, ELA, history, science, and even community service are infused into this unit that starts with observational drawing in your own community. In the tradition of the French plein air artists, take the learning experiences outdoors. Jody Wilmarth, Donnalyn Shuster

For information about specific workshop times and locations, you can download the convention app onto your phone or tablet by clicking on this link, or peruse your convention booklet when you arrive at the conference.  

See you all next Friday at The Desmond!
Donnalyn Shuster – Region 3
NYSATA YAM Co Chairperson

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Art Advocacy Links for You!

Let me get right to the point.  Here are three terrific advocacy links for you:

18 Things Highly Creative People do Differently

 Why Creative Education is Important for Kids

Art Makes You Smart

These links will all be added to the "Useful Links" on the right-hand side of this blog, for your future use.  Thank you Jody Wilmarth for providing these wonderful links.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Look! A contest for your students!

School Arts magazine has announced the 2016 Advocacy Poster Contest and Advocacy Bumper Sticker Contest, and I want to share it with you!

Grades 9-12 are invited to design posters based on the theme "How Does Art Unite Us?", and elementary (grades K-5) and middle school students (grades 6-8) will design bumper stickers based on the same theme.

All entries are due on November 18, and you can find complete contest rules and all other pertinent information RIGHT HERE

My students can't enter, because I teach currently in an independently run art enrichment program, but if I was still in the school classroom, this would definitely be a worthwhile contest to encourage student participation.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Some terrific advocacy videos for you!

I've been a negligent blogger, due to some minor personal distractions, but I'm back.  Pop some popcorn, pour yourself a glass of wine, and find a comfy place on your couch, because today, I am sharing a selection of links to some super Art Advocacy Videos for you to check out!

National Geographic Channel - "The Importance of Art Education"
Musician David Byrne and Neil discuss the vital importance of arts education

Art Speaks Advocacy

Why Art Matters

The Art of Creativity

Creativity the Key to Innovation

The Importance of Art Education

Why Art Education is Important

The Colors of an Art Room

The Right Brain Initiative

RSA Animate of Sir Ken Robinson TEDTalk - Changing Education Paradigms

Thank you to fellow NYSATA Board member and Advocacy Committee member Jody Wilmarth for providing this terrific selection of video links! 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Nitty-Gritty: How to Write Press Release

In a recent post here on the Artful Advocate, we discussed contacting local media.  Today's blog post takes that one step further, by getting down to the nitty-gritty of writing a press release.  

You have a great art show planned for Open House/Fall Concert, or whatever event you are promoting.  PTO is helping with the refreshments, you have the location reserved, posters and flyers up, and student work  matted and ready to hang.

But do you notify the community and district at large?  How do you get the  message out beyond your students?

The answer: write a press release!  But...I have never done this!  I am not a public relations expert!  How do I start?  What should I include?  To whom should I send this? 

Relax!  First of all - check your district protocols on contacting the media.  Do you simply get the article approved by your principal or superintendent?  Or, if you are lucky, you have a PR officer who handles media contacts.  Get that out of the way before you start.

Writing a release is done in a standard AP style known as the "inverted pyramid".  Simply stated, you start with the most important information first and then work you way to supporting details. 
  1. To jump start your work, use this organizational template to get your facts ready before writing.  
  2. Start off with the Who, What, Where, Why, and When!
  3. Write in an active voice.  Would you want to read this article?
  4. Use short quotes if warranted.
  5. Be precise and accurate.  Double check to prevent typos.
  6. Editors cut from the bottom top-load it with the most important information.   

Don't forget to include your contact information for follow-ups or questions from the reporter. 

Once approved formally by your administration, send to your local newspaper.  Small town papers often give the best coverage, especially if you hand them an article all ready to go.  Larger papers may have a community calendar section that would work well for you.  Don't be afraid to follow-up with a call to confirm the arrival of the release and to book a photographer for your event.  And don't forget to keep a copy for your APPR files as well!!

Once you cultivate a positive relationship with a reporter or editor, the process gets easier!  Relax and breathe... as a 'cub reporter' you will do just fine!

Don't forget to include your contact information for follow-ups or questions from the reporter.

Once you cultivate a positive relationship with a reporter or editor, the process gets easier!  Relax and breathe... as a 'cub reporter' you will do just fine! 

The article in today's post is again contributed by our advocacy dynamo Donnalyn Shuster.  You can red more about Donnalyn in a prior post, HERE

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Pinwheels for Peace, and Advocacy

We all know that some people think that art education is frivolous.  A great way to counteract that attitude is to show them that your art program is more than a silly extra.  I think that Pinwheels for Peace is a perfect way to do that. Use art to show your and your students' social awareness!  
Never heard of  Pinwheels for Peace?  Let me tell you about it - Pinwheels for Peace is an annual art installation project that also incorporates literacy, developed by two art educators more than a decade ago.  The installations of individually created and decorated pinwheels take place on September 21st, in honor and celebration of the International Day of Peace.  The concept is non-political, but promotes the concept of peace.  On the  Pinwheels for Peace website, it says "It is our hope that through the Pinwheels for Peace project, we can make a public visual statement about our feelings about war/ peace/ tolerance/ cooperation/ harmony/ unity and, in some way, maybe, awaken the public and let them know what we are thinking."  I think this is an admirable goal. 

Since the International Day of Peace is just a few days away, it is probably too late for you to participate this year unless you've already started creating your pinwheels, but I hope you'll consider marking your  mark your calendar so that next year you can be prepared to join in.  The Pinwheels for Peace website has everything you need to get started - there's templates and instructions for building pinwheels, there's a press releases that you can use, and there's even lesson plans!  By the way, Pinwheels for Peace is on Facebook, too! 

Pinwheels can be easily created on paper, and assembled using sharpened pencils and straight pins, though there's lots of other ways to make them.  The pinwheel installation pictures in this post show pinwheels made with the pencil construction, and are from a school where I used to teach, and where I organized my students' participation in Pinwheels for Peace.  I wish I had saved some better pics to show you!
It was so easy and fulfilling to do.  I spent just one or two class periods with each class to design the pinwheels, and then organized an after-school afternoon with a group of volunteer moms (and one grandma) where we assembled the pinwheels in sort of an assembly line, with a lot of laughter.  Many classroom teachers helped out on installation day, by taking their students outside to "plant" their pinwheels on the sloping school lawn next to the well-traveled road, and discuss the meaning of the word 'peace'.  One year, the head custodian and I went outside early in the morning and spray-painted the word PEACE in giant letters on the grass (using the paint that was also used to mark the sports fields), and then classes installed their pinwheels along the paint lines.  The small local free newspaper (this is a rural community) came with a HUGE stepladder and did some overhead photos of the installation.  The school board and administration were pleased, the community was happy, and the kids had a positive experience.  All-in-all, a great experience, a wonderful event, and some terrific advocacy, too!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Local Communication with the Media

Previous Artful Advocate guest contributor, Heather McCutcheon, has returned, this time offering some helpful tips on communicating with local media. The following article is terrific advice to those of us who are not particularly savvy at contacting the press, in her words:

Any chance I get I contact the local newspaper.  I am now on first name basis with the reporter.
To me, this is the most beneficial advocacy piece you can do!  Your local community is the community that votes on your school budget.  Lets face it, when the budget is bad the arts are in trouble.

* Remember: To advocate for your program is to keep it alive!
In the past five years, it seems like I am sending an email to the newspaper every month.  I also contact the TV stations when something special or flashy is happening.

Contacting your local media should not be a scary thing.  It is actually quite easy.  At first I spent some time doing a little research.  I found any email address that I could for local newspapers & TV stations.  I complied a list of these emails and now use this list to send out mass emails, hoping that one person will find my information meaningful.  This step is done usually about a week or two before a special event, like a guest artist or an art show.  If I do not hear anything, a few days before the event I send another email and also call the newspapers and TV.   

Here are a few more tips that I have found useful when sending my emails and making the call:

  • Don't sound pushy. 
  • Give specific information.  Give details about where, when and what is going on. 
  • If the media can not make the event, offer to send pictures with a little write-up (a press release).
Thanks again, Heather, for your contribution to this  post.  To read more about Heather, use this link to her previous post.