Jan 262015

We are happy to announce that MAAE’s group Facebook page is now the MAAE Student Arts Collaborative, a place where Maine high school students involved in the arts (any of the arts) can share their work, their thoughts and their questions with each other, with college arts students and with Maine post-grads already pursuing careers in the arts.

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We see this as a place where young artists will find support, encouragement, information and frank advice from their contemporaries and from those who have walked the same path before them.

The page will not only be for young artists but also managed by them. The cover photo designer is high school artist Piper Smith, a junior at Traip Academy in Kittery.
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The other two young managers of the page are Zachary Fisher, a freshman at UMaine in Orono, studying choral music
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and Meredith Crawford, 28, who grew up in Veazie, Maine and who is now a professional violist in Los Angeles.

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Encourage any young artists you teach or know to join the group by directing them to either the Facebook group (MAAE Student Arts Collaborative) or to the Facebook link on this website. The more students who join and share their work, the stronger the support system will be. Thanks!

Jan 182015


For high school students involved in visual art and interested in exploring possibilities for college and beyond, the Maine College of Art in Portland, MECA, has been offering a three week intensive residential summer program. Now, MECA and Portland Stage have announced a partnership to set up a program for theater students as well.

For more information, see the Bulletin Board page.

Photograph by Cynthia Farr-Weinfeld of CFW Photography (http://www.cfwphotography.smugmug.com/)

Dec 222014

Maranacook Community School’s Bee Sculpture Project – a Student’s Voice

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“I didn’t like bees at all before creating this sculpture with my class. After learning about them and what’s going on with them, I definitely care more than I did before. Not only did I learn how to create a sculpture, or evaluate the meaning of another artist’s sculpture, I also learned how sculptures can impact your life or how you view a certain topic.”
Kaleigh Parks, freshman.

For the rest of Kaleigh’s artshare, see Artshare/latest shares or click here

Nov 242014


This November, Bangor HS teacher Angela Domina’s two Junior English classes hosted BCTA dance
residencies with teaching artist Katenia Keller. The two college-preparatory classes had been
studying several texts in medieval British Literature. The dances they created and performed at the Orono conference
explored the universal themes the students saw represented in those texts. The symbolic capacity of dance allowed the students to render the large and abstract themes visible and creating the dance focused the students on shaping them into a narrative story. Performing for an audience gave the classes the opportunity to have
their ideas impact others. The students in one
class aimed to show the audience the essential balance between humans and nature. The second
class attempted to give to the audience a sense that a powerful force, Love, is given to them to
care for and to carry into the world.

For more photos and excerpts from the students’ own description of their dances see
MAAE Programs/BCTA – Latest News. Interested in bringing BCTA residencies to your school? Contact Susan Potters at spotters@maineartsed.org.

Nov 102014

Students Perform on Nov. 19th.

Students watching a BCTA dance performance last year in Orono

Students watching a BCTA dance performance last year in Orono

Five high school English classes – three creative writing classes in Brewer and two junior English classes in Bangor – have been working with professional Maine performing artists this month. Each class is creating an original drama or dance piece – about either their own self-identified social themes, or themes they draw from their curriculum. The classes will be performing their original works on Wednesday, November 19th at the Church of Universal Fellowship, 82 Main Street in Orono. The performances – each about 15 minutes in length – begin at 9:30 and end at noon. The public is invited to come to any and all of them. Admission is free.

The students’ performances are part of Building Community Through the Arts (BCTA), an MAAE program now in its fifteenth year. Initiated just after the Columbine High School tragedy, BCTA uses group creation in the arts to generate trust and break down social barriers among students. Audience feedback and support is also an important element in the program and time is given for discussion after each performance. We encourage parents and community members to come to Orono on the 19th and see the students’ work.

MAAE is grateful to the Bangor Savings Bank Foundation and Jane’s 1983 Charitable Trust for their help in supporting BCTA this year. If you’re interested in bringing this program to your community contact Susan Potters at spotters@maineartsed.org.

Oct 152014

While arts educators are the backbone of a strong school arts education program, students and teachers alike benefit from meaningful contact with professional artists – those who come to the school, those whose art the students may experience in field trips, and those whose art the students may be assisted to experience during non-school hours. The organization, logistics and funding support for all of this enrichment can take considerable time, and it is not always easy. The Arts Enrichment Nuts and Bolts section of our MAAE website will be devoted to helping with those challenges and also to finding the people who have both the willingness to take them on and may have more time than busy teachers.

In the coming weeks we will begin to post this information on the Nuts and Bolts website page. We welcome and will post your ideas and tips as well. Let us know what has worked for you at your school. We also want to hear about your problems and questions. Please send it all to me at spotters@maineartsed.org. For more extended help, MAAE members can call our “help desk”… which is 207 439-3169. We look forward to speaking with you!

Sep 172014

Stephen Wicks, president of the Maine Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE), has announced that Education Director Susan Potters of Kittery has been chosen to head the non-profit as Executive Director, taking over from retiring director, Peter Alexander. “The board is plePhoto on 9-17-14 at 9.44 AMased to have a director of Potters’ experience and we look forward to working with her” said Wicks. Potters, a former teacher from New York City, has been involved with MAAE since the early 1990’s, first serving as a board member from Veazie. After organizing the successful 1997 “Arts in Our Schools K-12” conference in Bangor, Potters was tapped to direct the organization’s first regional office in Greater Bangor, a post that was later expanded to include the two-county Penquis Region. Since becoming MAAE’s statewide Education Director in 2003 Potters has been most closely associated with “Building Community Through the Arts” (BCTA), the creative theater and dance high school residency program she designed in 2000, just after the Columbine High School tragedy, to generate trust and support among students. Outgoing Director Alexander, who helped to promote BCTA during his two-year tenure at MAAE, is enthusiastic about the board’s selection: “I am delighted that the board has chosen Susan Potters to take on the role of Executive Director,” said Alexander. “She has the qualifications, connections, experience, and most importantly the passion to take the organization to the next level in fulfilling its mission.” Potters sees a vital role for the arts in education: “The arts develop and engage all students as motivated and joyful learners, “ she said. “Making the arts a thriving reality in young people’s lives means providing lots of opportunities to be creative – in the home, the school classroom and the community. MAAE is here to help show what those opportunities look like and to help make them happen.”

Aug 222014

Students watch a BCTA Dance Performance in Orono

Students watch a BCTA Dance Performance in Orono

Building Community Through the Arts program at MAAE will be continuing this fall at Bangor and Brewer High Schools. Keep posted for updates!

Nov 292013

Educators combat “creativity crisis” in art instruction
By: Ilana Kowarski
District Administration, December 2013


IMG_7322In a world of constant technological change, the ability to adapt is priceless. Creativity is a necessary skill in the modern workplace, and in a 2010 survey by IBM, American CEOs identified it as the best predictor of career success. But those same CEOs said they believed that Americans were becoming less innovative.

For years, employers and colleges have asserted that recent high school graduates lack fundamental critical thinking skills, and the data concurs. U.S. scores on the Torrance test, an internationally recognized measure of creativity, have been steadily declining since 1990. Those were the findings of a study conducted by Kyung Hee Kim, a professor at the College of William and Mary, who analyzed the Torrance scores of K12 students and declared that we are in the midst of a “creativity crisis.”

Lori Meadows, executive director of the Kentucky Arts Council, says that educators must respond to the crisis by promoting original thinking in schools, and the best way to do that is through arts education. In September, Meadows organized a “Creativity and Innovation” forum where Kentucky educators and business leaders discussed how arts education prepares students for the working world.

“We wanted people to understand that arts education isn’t just about doing art for art’s sake,” she says. “It’s about developing skills for careers and lifelong learning.”

Exposure to the arts encourages students to think for themselves and gives them a creative outlet that makes them more enthusiastic about school, Meadows says.

Arts education a “must-have”
Research shows that arts education has short- and long-term benefits. For decades, UCLA professor James Catteral has studied the impact of arts education, and he has discovered that students with an arts background have an advantage in the school and work.

In 2009, Catteral released a study called “Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art,” which included 12 years of data on a cohort of 25,000 low-income, high school students. The study revealed that students who took classes in music, drama, and visual art averaged higher test scores and attendance rates than those who did not. Students who took art also were more likely to perform well in college and to get a job.

This correlation was statistically significant, and it persisted even after Catteral controlled for other factors, such as race and socioeconomic level.

The potential for arts instruction to improve student outcomes is something that Tom Shelton, Kentucky’s 2011 superintendent of the year, stressed during his keynote address at the Creativity and Innovation forum.

“The arts are an integral part of what we need to provide students,” says Shelton, who won a state prize for his administrative work in Daviess County and serves as superintendent of Fayette County Public Schools. “The arts are not just a nice-to- have. They are a must-have.”

Shelton has started numerous arts programs during his two years at Fayette County. He gave out $1,000 grants to visiting artists in schools, and he hired teachers for music, art, and drama classes.

Shelton also integrated arts education into the curriculum of the county’s newest school, the STEAM Academy, which was originally going to focus exclusively on the traditional STEM subjects. This makes him a notable outlier in Kentucky, where many schools eliminated arts classes in recent years.

Arts education is one of the most effective ways to get students excited about learning, and it is no accident that most of Shelton’s honor-society students are involved in the arts. “The way that you drive student achievement is through student engagement,” he says. “When you improve morale, you improve performance.”

A valuable credential
Businesspeople on a panel at the Creativity and Innovation forum agreed that arts education was important because it helps students practice problem-solving and innovating—two skills necessary to be a desirable employee.

Susan Brewer, a human resources manager at Gray Construction, says that soft skills, like creativity, are “the greatest predictors of job performance.” She says she considers these skills far more important than technical skills, since a smart and inventive person can easily be trained and will ultimately contribute more.

Brewer was not alone. Several of the five panelists said they considered creativity more important than specialized knowledge when hiring, because market conditions change rapidly and they want workers who can adapt to those changes.

Erica Strecker, the creative design manager for a ceiling fan manufacturer, says that hiring well-rounded thinkers is an important part of the philosophy of her company, Big Ass Fans. “My boss always says, ‘Give me an English major, and I can teach them anything.’”

Strecker says that many of her company’s best hires were artistically gifted and capable of contributing ideas that were outside-the-box.

Kris Kimel, the president of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation, says schools need to focus less on memorization and more on innovation, and that arts education is a crucial part of that.

“We’re providing a standardized education in a world that’s highly unpredictable,” he says. “I don’t know how we let ourselves slip into a school system that is absolutely counter to the way the world actually works. It’s a Newtonian system in a quantum world.”

Ilana Kowarski is a freelance writer based in Annapolis, Md.