Lincoln Center Institute: Promoting Individuality and Community through the Arts

Photo by Iñaki Vinaixa

It was once proposed, by someone who liked our work, that it was Lincoln Center Institute’s (LCI’s) mission to “build bridges between art and life so that children may learn to see the world transformed by the artist’s vision.”

Very close, but… There is danger incipient in that statement that the students will only see an artist’s point of view. What’s missing is the students’ contribution in the process; what’s missing is the act of free will.

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Wallace Foundation Funds Arts Education in Boston

Guess the last word of this sentence: “Arts education in Boston is being _____.”

Recent news from around the nation might have led you to say “cut,” but the right answer, happily, is “expanded.” The city has just announced that the Wallace Foundation will donate $4 million over four years to grow Boston’s Arts Expansion Initiative for public schools.

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Lincoln Center Institute’s 2012 Annual Benefit Gala on March 7

Patrick McMullan Company © 2011

Once a year, supporters of Lincoln Center Institute (LCI) gather, enjoy dinner and a world-class musical performance, and honor individuals and organizations that embody LCI’s ideals. These fundraisers celebrate LCI’s tireless efforts to bring the arts to young people, and to develop their skills of imagination, creativity, and innovation. So it is with great anticipation that I announce this year’s Annual Benefit Gala, to be held on March 7 at Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City.

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LCI Talks to Arts Schools Network Conference

Today I had the honor of addressing the Arts School Network’s annual conference, held this year in Florida. (Alas, I spoke via Skype, so I wasn’t able to enjoy the Sunshine State’s weather.) ASN is a professional association of arts school leaders, with over 300 members worldwide, so this was a great opportunity for me to engage with a large gathering of arts educators. The organization’s executive director, Kristy Callaway, asked me to talk about Lincoln Center Institute’s (LCI’s) imagination initiatives.

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Technology and the Arts: Can They Play Well Together?

The impact of technology on the arts has been a matter of debate at least since we had to be reminded to turn off our cell phones in performance halls.

At Lincoln Center Institute (LCI), we always prided ourselves on espousing the latest technology, but we also insisted on engagements with live performances. This duality was not easy to maintain, especially in a frosty economic climate, and, early on, technology came to the rescue in the form of video. After the students have attended a performance, they need something that will stay with them and be available as long as they study the subject: video allowed us to bring storytellers, chamber ensembles, and Shakespeare to classrooms where being stranded without technology would have meant being stranded without art.

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WNET Spotlights LCI in Article on Arts Organizations and Schools

Lincoln Center Institute (LCI) is featured in a new article for MetroFocus, WNET’s multi-platform magazine. The piece, entitled “Surprising Schoolyard Pals,” focuses on the growing number of partnerships between area arts organizations and local schools. This isn’t an entirely recent phenomenon, however: we’ve been at it for 36 years.

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Creativity in the UK

Image by Lee Fenner*

A recent article in British newspaper The Guardian by Nosheen Iqbal quotes Sir Ken Robinson as saying, “Creativity is not an exotic extra for education. Like literacy, it should be at the heart of national education priorities.” Robinson’s influential 1999 report, “All Our Futures,” led Arts Council England (ACE) to form Creative Partnerships, an arts education program to integrate “creative learning” into schools by having “creative agents”—artists of all kinds—work with teachers across subjects. The September 14 Guardian article deals with the fact that Creativity, Culture, and Education (CCE), the charity that now runs Creative Partnerships, expects deep cuts in the annual funding it receives from ACE. The bittersweet irony of this arises from the extremely positive findings of a new study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which estimates that for every £1 invested in Creative Partnerships, the program delivers £15.30 to England’s national economy; this adds up to £4 billion! (The calculation was derived from data showing that students in Creative Partnership schools score, on average, 2.5 grades higher than their peers on standardized tests.) Despite such impressive figures, which align with LCI’s belief in the broad efficacy of imaginative teaching and learning, proponents of this approach to education still face challenges in convincing others of its effectiveness. Iqbal writes, “Alison Peacock, head of Wroxham primary school … agrees that applying creativity in education can’t be a woolly or vague notion but must be rigorous.” Eric Liu and I think so, too: we argue in Imagination First that institutions must “routinize imagination” (203). It sounds like Creative Partnerships is doing just that in UK schools.

*There is a Creative Commons license attached to this image.

Arts in Education Week

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Image by Nancy Bareis

Did you know that the week of September 12-18, 2010, is Arts in Education Week across the country? The U.S. House of Representatives designated it as such on July 26, 2010, by passing H.Con.Res. 275, which was authored by Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) and supported by veteran actress Carol Channing. Here are a few brief excerpts from the resolution that affirm some of the tenets of Lincoln Center Institute’s philosophy of imaginative teaching and learning through guided study of artworks:

“arts education … is … an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students”;

“arts education enables students to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, imagination and creativity”;

“as the Nation works to strengthen its foothold in the 21st century global economy, the arts equip students with a creative, competitive edge.”

How exciting it is to see Congress getting behind these ideas! But, you may ask, how does one go about celebrating Arts in Education Week? The nonprofit organization Americans for the Arts offers some helpful suggestions on their Web site. One can: invite elected officials to visit classrooms in which the arts are integrated, plan an event in appreciation of the arts in education, spread the word on social networking sites, submit a letter to a local newspaper, ask elected officials to declare Arts in Education Week in one’s city or state—the list goes on. One can also participate from September 13-17 in a blog salon here. In addition to being thrilled by the federal government’s tribute to the field in which LCI works, I’m also glad to see further recognition (in H.Con.Res. 275) of the critical connection between the arts, education, imagination, and 21st-century economic success.

Comments from Korea

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Image by Michael Coté*

As I eagerly prepare to speak at the 2nd World Conference on Arts Education in Seoul, Korea in May, a news item from that capital city makes me even more excited about my upcoming visit. At the Global Metropolitan Forum of Seoul 2010 (GMF), a March event aimed at increasing the city’s economic competitiveness, Mayor Oh Se-hoon offered welcoming remarks linking imagination, creativity, and innovation to urban development. His words serve as a potent reminder of the fact that imagination is central not only to education, business, art, and science, but also to the functioning of successful communities. An article in The Korea Herald by Song Sang-ho reports on the March forum, an event that has now set the stage for the exhilarating conversations that are sure to fill the conference hall in May. Continue reading

Create to Graduate

graduation cake

Image by CarbonNYC*

For anyone interested in the work of LCI, we present some exciting news: The Center for Arts Education (CAE) has just released “Staying in School,” a groundbreaking report that is the first ever to examine the link between arts education and high school graduation rates in New York City public schools. Data collected by the NYC Department Of Education from more than 200 schools over two years tells us that those “in the top third in graduation rates offered their students the most access to arts education and the most resources that support arts education” (2). What accounts for the connection? By sparking students’ imaginations, by giving them means to express themselves, by leading them into creative collaboration with their peers, the arts engage young people who might otherwise become drop-out statistics. The report concludes helpfully with several positive policy recommendations, including expanded course offerings in the arts, the hiring of certified arts teachers, and the provision of ample classroom space for arts instruction (20-21). We at LCI applaud the exhaustive research and analysis undertaken by CAE, an organization that has served the children of NYC since 1996. The writing (or painting or acting or dancing or music) is on the wall: schools—not just here, but across the country—must integrate the arts into their curricula if we are to end “the national graduation crisis” (5) once and for all.

*There is a Creative Commons license attached to this image.

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