Advocacy for Art Education: Beyond Tee-Shirts and Bumper Stickers

Article excerpt

Advocacy is not new to art education. Over the years, Goldfarb (1979), Hodsoll (1985), and Erickson and Young (1996) have written about the importance of arts advocacy, but the concept of advocacy has evolved with the times. For example, in the 1970s, arts advocacy was described as a "movement" and brought together art educators, administrators, and members of the art community (Goldfarb, 1979, p. 22). Furthermore, Dorn (1977) wrote that for art education programs to continue, they must be qualitatively significant. In other words, there must be quality in art content learning and teaching and support must be given for art supplies and classrooms. The 1980s raised the question: "What is the art education that we wish to advocate?" (Hodsoll, 1 985, p. 251) as art educators sought to clarify their positions. In addition, (Lynch, 1989) pointed out that DisciplinedBased Art Education advocated for art education through a comprehensive approach derived from the teaching of aesthetics, art history, art criticism, and art production.

As the 1990s approached, there was new pressure to justify the value of art to the public with the introduction of "cultural wars" (McCarthy, Ondaatje, Zakaras, & Brooks, 2004). Strategies for educators included demonstrating measurable benefits of art education because "visual arts teachers will find more success if they learn to speak the language of administrators" (Boyer, 1995, p. 41) Arts educators often had to justify their place in K- 12 education. Art education included state and national standards for art activities and formal assessment in K- 12 art classrooms. More recently, arts advocacy adapted to the pressures of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and relating art education to other academic subjects in a multi-disciplinary approach rather than emphasizing its position as a completely separate subject (Chapman, 2007).

As the Internet became a widespread resource for information, various art organizations included advocacy on their websites, including the College Art Association, National Art Education Association, Arts Edge, Americans for the Arts, American Association for Museums, and the Council for Art Education. Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter provide new outlets to support arts advocacy.

Art Advocacy Events on National and State Levels

The president of the American Association of Museums (AAM) writes, "If every museum professional, volunteer, and trustee spent just 15 minutes once a week on advocacy, our local, state, and national elected officials would be far better informed about the critical role museums play in strengthening and enriching our society" (American Association of Museums, 2010, p. 79). Indeed, if art educators, parents, and supporters joined in this effort to advocate for art, their collective voice would be much more powerful and effective than their individual voices.

Not aU advocacy groups in the visual arts have entirely the same needs, but they aU do have the same goal of increasing public awareness on the importance of art in individual lives and in society. On a national spectrum, there are various art advocacy events based in Washington, DC. For example, Americans for the Arts sponsored Arts Advocacy Day this year from April 4-5, 201 1. Its purpose was to bring together cultural and civic organizations to highlight the importance of developing public poUcies and support increased public funding for the arts (Americans for the Arts, 2010).

The American Association of Museums (AAM) organized Museums Advocacy Day, also known as "Speak Up for Museums," held February 28-March 1, 2011. The focus of this event is to raise awareness concerning the importance of museums, federal funding, museums and federal education policy, and charitable giving issues affecting museums (American Association of Museums, 2010).

Of course, in K- 12 organizations, the focus of arts advocacy is a little different. Arts organizations focus more on the importance of arts education in schools and the role of art in students' lives. …