Arts Education Advocacy Day 2021
A big thank you to the 179 people who registered for the February 17th plenary session of Arts Education Advocacy Day!
To watch the complete Arts Education Advocacy Day 2021 Plenary Session click below – OR scroll down to see individual video segments!
Maine Arts Education Advocacy Day 2021 Plenary Session
Advocacy Day Plenary Video Segments: Part 1
Part 2: Conversations about Arts Education
Visual Art –Lynda Leonas, Maine Art Education Association talks with Argy Nestor (advocacy video included)
Visual Art Advocacy Video
Theatre – Kailey Smith, Maine Educational Theatre Association talks with Beth Lambert (advocacy video coming soon)
Maine Department of Education – Kellie Bailey, Social/Emotional Learning and Trauma-Informed Practices Specialist, Commissioner Pender Makin, and Jason Anderson, Visual and Performing Arts Specialist
Dance – Emma Campbell, Maine Dance Educators talks with Mary Ellen Schaper (advocacy video included – without music, due to copyright restrictions)
Music – Sandra Barry, Maine Music Educators Association talks with Kaitlin Young (advocacy video included)
Music Advocacy Video
Part 3: ABC Student Advocacy Initiatives
Susan Potters, Executive Director, Maine Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE)
Student Panel Members of ABC Student Leadership Group and School Advocacy Teams
Melissa Birkhold, Advocacy Coordinator, MAAE
Want to start a team at your school?
Contact us at email@example.com!
2016 & 2017 Advocacy Days – at the Statehouse
In 2016 and 2017 MAAE transformed its annual Advocacy Day at the Statehouse to fully represent the whole state. Arts students from around the state were invited to advocate one-on-one with their district legislative representatives. MAAE also created a statewide display of community support for arts education in the Hall of Flags, organizing the tables to represent each county, and offering community arts organizations in each county an opportunity to link up with and host their county’s student delegation. Another change was the interaction of the students themselves. Besides programming student performances for the legislators after the morning session in the chambers, the students were invited to organize group arts activities so that they could meet and interact with each other while the legislators were still upstairs.
Arts Education Advocacy Day 2017
Arts Education Advocacy Day 2017 was a special day… when arts educators brought enthusiastic arts students from every county in the state to set up shop at the exhibit tables in the Hall of Flags and advocate one-on-one with their legislators.
And that was just the beginning! From SAD #33 in northern Aroostook County Charles Michaud’s music students came to provide music, and Theresa Cerceo’s Student Leadership Arts Movement (SLAM!) group demonstrated their strategies for keeping the arts front and center.
A “table-hopping” game of mutual interviews gave the students an excuse to meet each other, and the hall’s grand staircase once again provided the site for a group photo behind the ARRT banner. It also provided the audience space for our new-this-year Open Mic, organized by Maranacook HS art student (and stand-up comic!) Gavin Diou Cass.
Each of those performances was special… students reading their poems, singing and accompanying themselves to songs they had written… and who can forget Mikayla Smith’s impassioned speech about arts education!
At the formal noontime program Acting Commissioner Robert G. Hasson welcomed everyone on behalf of the Department of Education, advocate Mary Hermon urged the students to stay with their arts – and to stay in Maine!… and Argy Nestor read a speech from Julie Richard, director of the Maine Arts Commission. And there were more performances: Emma Campbell’s dance students from Thornton Academy performed (beautifully) a piece with some difficult and lyrical partnering; and we were all so moved by the group of formerly incarcerated youth from Maine Inside Out, whose original theater performance and heartfelt words afterward showed how much power the arts have to transform young lives.
This is an important time for arts education advocacy in Maine. Not only will we soon be learning the results of the Census of arts education in Maine schools, conducted by the Maine Arts Commission; but the ESSA federal regulations requiring a state plan this year and district plans next year are offering arts education advocates important opportunities to make their voices heard. Susan Potters urged everyone gathered at the Statehouse to stay tuned to be part of that advocacy, and encouraged all to visit MAAE’s website, www.maineartsed.org and click on “stay in the loop” in order to receive announcements about it.
We asked those who registered to respond to the question “I am a…” and here is how they responded (we asked them to “check all that apply”):
- 70 identified as educators
- 50 identified as artists
- 42 identified as students
- 38 identified as other
- 35 identified as parents
- 16 identified as administrators
- 7 identified as legislators
Advocacy Day Recap –
Arts Education Advocacy 2021 was not only a first because it was virtual. It was also our first Advocacy Day since MAAE along with our four partners in the ABC Arts are Basic Coalition – (MAEA – the Maine Art Education Association, MMEA – Maine Music Educators Association, MaineEdTA – Maine Educational Theatre Association, and the Maine dance educators) – decided to present Advocacy Day together. And since the pandemic and its impact on arts education was the focus of this year’s Advocacy Day, it was an easy step from there to have each of our four ABC partners report on that impact from their perspective.
So Advocacy Day was also a chance for us to hear from each other what the year has been like. And we as presenters also learned a lot – from each other! While the reports from each ABC leader were anecdotal, they nevertheless sent a clear message that for all its challenges and disruptions to business as usual, the pandemic has been for each them an opportunity to step back, reflect, and deepen their own appreciation for the value of arts education and its importance for Maine students.
That same message of affirmation and commitment was echoed in the remarks of the other State leaders who spoke as well. Governor Janet Mills’ words showed not only the warmth of her own feelings for the arts, but her respect for the proud part the arts have played in the tradition of our State. Martha Piscuskas, the Arts Education Director of the Maine Arts Commission, described three strong programs that are serving Maine’s arts educators, its teaching artists and its underserved rural communities respectively.* And three speakers came to us this year from the Maine Department of Education, another Advocacy Day first. They included Jason Anderson, VPA Content Specialist, who (in addition to his invaluable help this year as our webinar manager), spoke about two important DOE initiatives that will strengthen the Department’s support for arts education; Commissioner Pender Makin, who spoke powerfully about arts education’s critical role for student equity; and Kellie Bailey, Social/Emotional Learning and Trauma-Informed Practices Specialist, whose very presence, in addition to her words, sent a clear signal of the Department’s commitment to arts education.
What we may remember most vividly about Advocacy Day this year was the voices of the students – not only the individual students expressing their feelings about the arts in the videos accompanying the ABC reports, but also the live panel of arts students who are forming advocacy teams in their schools, part of a statewide new ABC initiative directed by MAAE. Coming at the end of the program, the students’ rich discussion about local advocacy and what their teams could mean for the arts in their schools not only brought together the separate themes of the four earlier reports, but made it very clear that Maine arts students can and should be a part of any future efforts to advance the cause of arts education in our state.
So what we heard this Advocacy Day 2021 was ultimately a message of hope. While there’s work to be done, there is strong support from the State’s leaders, a spirit of communication and cooperation among us and plenty of new energy coming from our students. We hope you will join us in this work as well. Please reach out to us if you’d like to learn more about how a student advocacy team can be formed at your local high school or middle school. Even if you can’t be involved yourself, you can be helpful in helping us get the ball rolling!
And if you didn’t have a chance to see Advocacy Day 2021 on February 17th, it’s worth watching!