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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A New Territory for Partnership — by Joe Landon, Executive Director, CA Alliance for Arts Education

The Policy Council of the California Alliance for Arts Education is comprised of 40 organizations from around the state, representing the interests of education, business, arts and parents. It’s a natural forum in which to raise the question of how to expand and strengthen the impact of  partnerships in the work we do.

At our last meeting, Jeffry Walker presented the findings of a report commissioned by the California Alliance. Its conclusion underscored the point made in this blog, that partnerships are more effective than unilateral actions, and that we must seek new ways to bridge sectors of society as well as engage and serve diverse communities.

In order to ‘test out’ those findings, we invited the response of representatives from three unique sectors whose interests may overlap with arts education, but who until now have not been seen as natural  partners in the work we do. The organizations represented were Ed Trust West, whose work focuses on high academic achievement of all students; Preschool California, working to increase access to high quality early childhood education for all children; and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the union of professional stagehands, motion picture technicians, and allied crafts.

What we heard from their representatives reflected the recognition that arts education was not seen as a priority nor particularlyrelevant to their mission. Yet, as we discussed our individual missions, what emerged were the overlapping interests, whether connected to our shared commitment to provide every child with a complete education that includes the benefits of arts education, the importance of  ‘experiential’ learning opportunities throughout the educational experience, and the relevance of the arts to preparing students for careers in the workforce.

The conversation opened new territory for partnership and building a stronger base of support for schools and communities that support the aspirations of all children. As the statewide advocacy organization forarts education, we recognize the critical importance of that effort.


Joe Landon is the executive director of the California Alliance for Arts Education. His professional background includes being a speechwriter and senior consultant in the state assembly, a K-8 music and drama teacher, a preschool teacher, and a playwright, composer and  television writer.


4 Comments on “A New Territory for Partnership — by Joe Landon, Executive Director, CA Alliance for Arts Education”

  1. Ann Wettrich says:

    Thanks for this report Joe. It’s interesting that you teased out common denominator outcomes from potential partners in the high achievement educational, early childhood education, and union stage hands and motion picture technician circles that can by synthesized down to EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING and WORKFORCE CAREERS. I wonder what else can be learn from this kind of cross-fertilizing investigation.

  2. lmusic says:

    Dear Joe
    It is so fantastic to get your voice and statewide leadership perspective into this conversation. It is interesting that when we take the time to engage more deeply with others – we find out how much we have in common. Digging down into core values seems like an important path. While some folks enter from a passion for pre-school, others for school reform, still others for arts in schools – underneath, and common to all, is a desire to assure that all children have the opportunity to learn, develop and grow so that they have a sense of belonging and purpose as part of local communities and a democratic society. I wonder how artists could help the people of California see and experience this common desire. I am thinking of Susan Wolf’s blog post on this site about the Empty Chairs that represent the students that drop out of school EVERY HOUR in this country. I wonder if our statewide organizations could collaborate with artists to help people from all sectors to see THROUGH the arts what is is that binds us all, and supports us all. That kind of experiential learning in the arts for Californians might be a terrific strategy for the California Alliance to bring even more stakeholders to the table you are setting.

    I wonder if the California Alliance could partner with the California Arts Council to commission artists to do project expressing the concept of “FROM You and Me TO We”?

    What do you think?

  3. This collaborative work is so important! And LMusic adds an important point–there are shared core values that may be the bridge between the efforts of different organizations.

    If we step back and ask WHY, we do the work that we do, or what is our vision for our own communities and for the world, it seems that there will be substantial overlap.

    If arts advocates can lead the way in promoting integrated learning (and arts-integrated learning), this contributes to shared goals of many organizations who advocates for a more just and equitable world for all of our children. No?

  4. […] us; what we do well; and where we are trying to go in a way that allows us to find with others what Joe Landon refers to as “overlapping interests,” and “shared commitments?” As John Abodeely writes, […]