This is the online stream for sharing conversations that happened throughout the Greater Bay Area from March through June 2012 around the question:

How can we collectively transform public education through the arts to create a better future for everyone?

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Arts Educators in the San Francisco Brown Bag Collaborative Think Outside the Box!

On Tuesday, May 22, 2012, over 30 arts educators representing major arts organizations, community arts organizations, after school and higher education gathered for their monthly self-organizing networking meeting at the San Francisco Library to consider the question “How can we collectively transform public education to create a better future for everyone?”

Where Are We Now:
• It is great to have community and a safe place to share ideas, such as the Arts Education Brown Bag where we share values, come together and learn from each other
• This blog is a hub we can use. What other online places are available to us?
• Organic nature of discussion important
• Good way to survey arts landscape
• Optimism with demise of No Child Left Behind – New Beginnings
• Here with people who are interested in doing good – idealism encouraged!

Where Do We Want to Go and Why:
• Stark difference between schools in different communities – how to address/bridge that?
• How do we un-silo arts orgs/schools?
• Figure out who we are serving now – how to serve everyone
• Mapping together would be useful
o Alliance for ALL can facilitate mapping at future meeting
o Clear language in map
o not just which schools are getting what, but what we have in the community to offer
o need to include school principals
• Coordination key in showing resources available
• We want to leverage our programs together
• We want to talk about arts as a core value
• Clarity in our language
• We want to talk from our heart about what we believe
• Let’s not make assumptions about what people value
• Step out of “roles” and have real conversation
• We want to work with the school district in this process. We need to know what they’re planning, to know how we can move forward
• We need to be present at community meetings, make people accountable and integrate our work
• We can support the process to create an arts supplement to the CCSESA Common Core toolkit
• We can help teachers in their practice so they deepen student learning
• Include foundation program officers/ funders in this conversation

How we will get there:
• Advocate within own organizations, have larger conversation about how we want to educate our children within our organizations
• Parents need to get in and use voice to PTA
• Develop common language to use with our (non-arts) community? That maps onto common values and Amplifies student voice
• Mapping piece exciting – knowledge leads to more opportunities and collaborations
• Appreciation that this process values all voices in the community
• Hurdle – until we overcome bubble tests we’re sisyhpus pushing the rock up the mountain – we must change attitudes about how schools are judged
• Afterschool: let’s remember them
• Pre service teachers need to be engaged in arts learning from the start
• Getting to bottom of what teachers really need
• What is our vision for better future for EVERYONE – challenge to consider this in our competitive culture/ this isn’t just about serving some – talking about politics here
• Being accountable and responsible for EVERY CHILD
• Grappling with Breadth vs Depth – should we reach every child in shallow engagement or work with 10 schools and work deeply
• Keep returning to pragmatic questions and stakeholders who need to be involved
• Working on ground level – volunteering to teach
• Commitment to educating ourselves about what’s happening and keep students in loop
• Resources sharing/ shared sense of vision – how does it manifest in our own organizations? Offering that back to other organizations
• Excited about places of collaboration instead of feeling competitive / finding shared vision without changing who you are reaching out to community
• Great to be in space where addressing equity – Bay Area districts compared to Dallas
• We will have a “Bigger” Thought in the Bay Area

Next steps:
• Invite Create CA to SF
• Talk about doing good work, talk about things we care about
• Community meetings
• Deepen instruction – learning – new assessments
• Mapping what this community can provide
• Leverage partnerships to meet bigger need/ can’t serve all students alone
• Communication amongst providers
• “Unsiloing” providers
• Interdisciplinary planning
• Start with mapping
• Map to brown bag, working tool
• Agreed on language/ direct language about program, coherence
• Equalization/ coordination/ equity

Where Do We Draw The Line?

By: Jennyann Carthern

Photo By: Jane M Sawyer

Between you and me, I’ve noticed a want for creative skills in Teaching and Education. Teachers and Recreation Leaders want to Teach Art, but the why often starts with, I’m not creative, or I can’t even draw a straight line. When in reality we make lines every day. We cross the t’s and dot the i’s. The question is; is that Art?

Yes! A matter of fact it is, and it’s in how you see it. I believe Art is about concept, storytelling, and culture, and about hundred other things! What if I took the concept of t’s and i’s, and I repeated that sequence a thousand times. Is it Art? Or what if I repeated that sequence a thousand more times, in each state across the U.S. Is that Art? Or What if I filmed the entire process, across the United States. Is that Art?

This is the missing piece, the core, the amazing find in the middle of a Tootsie Pop!

There is more to Art Education than skill, and technique. It’s about opening the door to what’s around us, and creating a picture of our world. Art is supposed to tell the story of humanity, documenting our history, battles, and showcasing the amazing wonders of the world. How can we teach that in public schools?

So my question today, is how we can transform Art Education in public schools by changing the credential maps. Art History, Theory, and Technique are very important, however these are just tools and structures that help Artist get their point across.

Think of that moment when you gazed at an amazing work of art. Your heart slows, and your thoughts silence. You stand there wondering why; you can’t take your eyes off of it. Maybe it’s beautiful, or maybe it’s disgusting and makes you angry! This moment is the moment of connection. Art isn’t Art without this connection. It has to speak to someone, not everyone, but the one who’s supposed to connect to it. Technique and Art History can’t do this. It starts with the Artist, and there message.

This is especially important in schools, because it can teach students to communicate without violence and bullying. How can we do this, and where do we start the line?

Art and Science and Dance Your PhD

Understanding Through Tangential Questioning: Art, Dance Your Ph.D., and the Large Hadron Collider

This is a great blog post on the intersection of artists and scientists.  A little excerpt posted below; he also talks about a collaboration between CERN and  Ars Electronica.  And if you’ve never checked out Dance Your PhD, definitely do!!

Art and science have a longstanding relationship, and it does a disservice to both to pretend that isolation from one another is the best approach. For example, there is a long history of illustration in biology. Chemistry uses pictograms with specific rules to convey structures and arrangements of atoms and molecules. Many of these traditional methods have specific rules to most accurately represent ideas, or particular aspects of an idea. These methods of visualization are developed to work within the scientific community, frequently to the exclusion of the lay person. But interesting things begin to happen once those strict rules of representation are relaxed. Most specifically, in Dance Your Ph.D. we see scientists imagine their works through dance.”

True Blue – School built around Blue Man Group principles

Inspiration from the Blue School.  Check out this school (with roots in the Blue Man Group) whose mission is:  “cultivating creative, joyful and compassionate inquirers who use courageous and innovative thinking to build a harmonious and sustainable world.”

The school’s educational framework, takes its organizing principles directly from the personality profile of the Blue Man himself. “When we were designing the show,” Blue Man Matt explained, “we imagined the characters seeing and interacting with the world like children do. The Blue Man continually explores and researches the world around him. So we imagined him doing so via six different lenses:

  1. The Group Member – the lens of collaboration, connection, and global citizenship
  2. The Scientist – the lens of curiosity, critical thinking, experimentation and analysis
  3. The Hero – the lens of perseverance, commitment and leadership
  4. The Trickster – the lens of provocation, innovation, and play
  5. The Artist – the lens of imagination, instinct and creative expression
  6. The Innocent – the lens of emotional awareness and mindfulness

For full article go to:

Profile: Jennyann Carthern

Name: Jennyann Carthern
Job/Role/Title: Business Owner and Teaching Artist
Organization/Affiliation/School: Paint Is Thicker Than Water
District or City/County: Solano
Contact info:


Tell us about yourself. Who are you and what do you do? My name is Jennyann Carthern, and I’m an Artist in love with Illustration, Teaching, and Creative Entrepreneurship. I’m been a Teaching Artist for over 10 years instructing youth of all ages  in Arts and Theater, in After School Programs and Non-Profits throughout Solano County and the Bay Area. I attended the Academy of Art, and Graduated with a BFA in Illustration from The California College of the Arts.

As an Artist, I own and operate a company called Paint Is Thicker Than Water, that is  an expression of love which courses through the veins of many artists and the power creativity has over us. It is my call to action to serve artists who are at their wits’ end. I provide workshops, in person and online in art education and creative entrepreneurship. I also provide creative entrepreneur curriculum for after school programs, with a goal to end the trend of the starving artist, and give students the tools and confidence to really make a life and a living for themselves in the arts. I also teach Art and Theater part time for The Place 2 Be After Three at three middle schools throughout the city of Fairfield.

My students are my best teachers, and in a world that thinks artists are crazy. I value their success. That starts in promoting art education, and giving them the right tools to create successful ventures that can eventually give back to the arts.

How did you find out about this process? I found out about the Arts Alliance in an email invite, and I was thrilled to sign on, and help in the conversation.

What inspired you to get engaged? My inspiration started within my own Educational Journey and my love for Arts, Community, and Learning. As a child, I was labeled with a learning disability; I had the familiar IEPs, and the explanation that I was different, because It took me longer than others to learn information. Today I know better. Today I’ve discovered that I’m a right brainer that requires different, more creative tools for learning. Tools that my school environment hadn’t caught on to. I loved my teachers, but they just weren’t in sync with my creative mind. Using post its, markers, and things that move, I’ve become a lifetime learner. I am different! As are the many students in public schools that don’t meet policy guidelines. Their different because they doodle instead of highlight, and question instead of understand.

Learning isn’t a one stage process, but for some reason, Schools are still teaching in this one stage, of testing, sitting, and filling out worksheets. I’m inspired because, I think that it’s time to create more stages, and Art Education has the power to do that.

What do you think of the conversations so far? The conversations so far, are impressive, and I can sense an energy building that will result in change. We must keep talking, because students need us, and we need to be their voice in education. They know what they want. However they aren’t always heard because of the decisions we make for them. How much power we truly have is astounding!

Everyone that is involved in the conversation is creating inspiring ideas, that I’d like to see more teachers, principles, and after school organizations take action on. I’d like to see them more involved in the conversation.

How would you answer the framing question: How can we collectively transform public education through the arts to create a better future for everyone? We can collectively transform public education through the arts to create a better future for everyone by changing the perception of the starving artist. I still, truly think this is very important because we live in word of mouth society. One that often believes that the only value of art is how good it looks on a wall.

Art is intrinsic, its value is in thinking, creating, organizing, expressing and imagining new ideas, concepts, and things into existence.  However public school education isn’t noticing the change that is surrounding us and students are going to graduate into a world they weren’t expecting. Where test scores don’t matter, and awards are going to the creative ones, who can think different, imagine, and express messages that skip a heartbeat.

In one of my articles Making Room for Collaboration I said.  “The starving Artist only exists, because we haven’t created a picture that works for them or their trade. We leave those students with a D.I.Y. approach to education. So, we must change that perception, and present a new picture that Teachers can model, with value already attached to it. Giving students more options and choices to make for their creative futures.

I still believe that, and I still think this is how we can transform public education through the arts, to create a better future for everyone.

Why Teaching Artists Will Lead the Charge in Audience Engagement

An articulation of the widening role in culture (and society) of the experienced teaching artist…

By KELLY DYLLA  on the Creatiquity blog:

“The point here is not that teaching artist work exists – it certainly does and has been around for at least a couple of decades. The point is that teaching artists can offer the kind of thinking needed for core artistic decisions and even market strategy to help develop truly innovative programming. Designing the experience with a work of art is now as important as the work of art itself, and we need new kinds of talent making key decisions if arts organizations are to survive.

In August, the Seanse Art Center in Oslo, Norway will hold The World’s First International Teaching Artist Conference. With teaching artists from all over the world convening to discuss this still-emerging discipline, I am eager to see how they view teaching artists’ role in the equally adolescent field of audience engagement.”

Art In A World That Seems to Have No Room For Art!

By: Jennyann Carthern                                                                           

It was just Tuesday, when I checked my email, and received this amazing message. Even though I already had a post topic planned. I felt with every breathe in me that this was to be my post for Thursday.  Enjoy 🙂