The Arts Education Alliance is a collaborative venture with representatives from the Sonoma County Office of Education, several school districts across the county, arts teachers, administrators and arts organizations. Creative Sonoma is working as a member of the Arts Education Alliance (AEA) to bring attention to the importance of arts education in our schools.
Arts education stakeholders convened to discuss and propose key strategies in creating a county-wide Arts Education Master Plan. This work was facilitated by Peggy Burt, director of the Arts Now Planning Initiative with the California Alliance for Arts Education. The working group consisted of arts teachers, arts organizations teaching artists, classroom teachers, County Office of Education, non-profits, university faculty, and parents. From their work, a framework has been created of best practices. This model will be shared with districts throughout the county in an effort to increase arts education, particularly in underserved areas.
The release of two Arts Education Research Reports analyzed assessment data collected in arts education. This assessment revealed strengths as well as challenges in arts education throughout Sonoma County. The State of Arts Education in Sonoma County by WestEd focuses on K-12 arts education. Big Idea Arts and Education Publishing, headed by Bob Bullwinkel, created the State of Arts Education in Sonoma County Secondary Schools using the statewide database project.
After many meetings and much research, AEA determined that its most important initiative would be to launch an assessment of the state of arts education in the K-12 schools in Sonoma County. The group believes that the only way to embark on real change for the future is to understand the current state of affairs.
Our early planning work led us to the successful efforts of our neighbors in Napa County who completed an assessment and master plan for the Napa Unified School District this past year. The principals involved in Napa have generously provided us all of their tools and reports which we are revising to meet the specific needs of our county.
Another boost to our efforts came with the launch this month of an interactive website featuring data on all arts education activities, in grades 6-12, across the State of California. The database is searchable at a very detailed level for Sonoma County, including searching individual schools and the arts classes offered by grade. This work was produced by CreateCA, a statewide arts education coalition and is available at http://www.createca.dreamhosters.com/artsed-dataproject/. Building on what data is already available will help our Sonoma effort focus in filling in the gaps, in particular for grades K-5.
This project has been generously supported by the Community Foundation of Sonoma County and the California Arts Council.
Photo: Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, One City Arts Summer Program 2016