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Posts from the ‘Public Policy on Art’ Category

The Intrinsic Impact of Art on Community

Anish Kapoor, Cloud Gate. Located in Millennium Park in Chicago. (Photo:

Anish Kapoor, Cloud Gate. Located in Millennium Park in Chicago. (Photo:

Many arguments for art ground themselves on extrinsic impacts, economic growth for example, but for communities like individuals, the greatest impact is intrinsic. Just as we as individuals employ art to reflect on questions of substance and explore issues of curiosity and controversy, so too do entire communities find meaning, happiness, and collective identity through art. Yet not often enough do we value art in this way, and it is time that we should. Andrew Swensen writes, “Yes, art makes communities more fulfilled. And yes, a fortunate byproduct of that sensibility is improved economic prosperity. So let’s talk about making artful communities because of the intrinsic impact, and then be pleasantly grateful for the secondary extrinsic consequences that follow.” Fortunately, thanks to the shifting discourse of the 21st century, evident in integrated thinking of TED talks and with a little help from at least one neuroscientist, we may already be heading in the direction of a more unified view of artistic thinking as part of a healthy society.

Join us for our latest reflection on arts and society, “The Intrinsic Impact of Art on Community” (click here to read full article).

The Many Faces of El Sistema in the USA. Part 2 of a Series

Photo courtesy of El Sistema @ Rainey

Photo courtesy of El Sistema @ Rainey

Annie Gordon continues her series on El Sistema in this second installment by looking at a couple of programs in the United States: El Sistema@Rainey in Cleveland and MyCincinnati. Both of these programs have transferred the philosophy of Venezuela’s El Sistema to urban environments in the U.S., and Gordon considers the questions inherent in the undertaking. In both cases, musicians seeking to help children found local partners in the community. To learn the results, read Gordon’s new article “The Many Faces of El Sistema in the USA” (click here to read full article).

What Is El Sistema?

Photo courtesy of MyCincinnati

Photo courtesy of MyCincinnati

Annie Gordon launches a series on El Sistema with this article. El Sistema began in Venezuela as a program that uses classical music in order to reach children in difficult circumstances. At the core of the program is a philosophy, and Gordon writes, “At the foundation of this philosophy is the idea that music education – specifically classical music education – can and should be used as a means of uplifting and unifying an underserved community, starting with the children.” The results have been impressive, and Gordon wants to share this story of success — a story of art transforming lives.

Follow her to learn the answer to the question “What Is El Sistema?” (click here to read the full article).

An Interlude: The World of Online Discussions on the Arts

by Andrew Swensen

Over recent weeks, The Muse Dialogue has had a series of very productive exchanges with other efforts in online media, and I want to acknowledge those who are also laboring on behalf of the arts. It is in the best interest of all of us, in the best interest of the arts generally, to cultivate those connections and to expand the reach of each of them. So I am taking this morning to express our gratitude for this work and to share a few resources that may interest our readers. For those visiting The Muse Dialogue based on recent referrals to our series on young musicians, those articles can be found in the table of contents to that issue – and we encourage you to explore the rest of our site when you are done reading those pieces.

Greg Sandow has been composing a blog for, in which he has taken a hard look at the future of classical music. In the site overview, he writes, “For years we’ve been talking about a classical music crisis. And the crisis is very real … We now have to ask whether classical music, in its traditional forms, still is sustainable. The answer, I think, is ‘probably not.’” In a post this week, he discusses specifically the role that conservatories play in the crisis of classical music, and argues persuasively for the need for innovation — an innovation that he sees as largely absent. We encourage all of our readers to have a look at his most recent post, which assembles a thorough list of those trying to innovate and well characterizes the barriers that the conservatory system imposes on innovation.

Before we leave the world of music, I want to put out another resource that has been reposting some stories from TMD, The Classical Digest. The Classical Digest does an excellent job of gathering news, commentary and video from the world of classical music, and it is an excellent resource for finding material from around the world.

An interesting connection has come our way from New York through the work of Frances McGarry. A veteran of the theater both on stage and behind the scenes, McGarry has launched an effort in arts advocacy, which includes two initiatives that we recommend. First is a collection of 100 stories from the arts, and McGarry is gathering these stories leading up to Arts in Education Week, September 11-17. McGarry has also begun an online video series, First Online With Fran, and the initial episode presents an interview with Angelina Fiordellisi, Artistic Director of Cherry Lane Theatre.

From the other coast, Oregon specifically, comes Combustus. Combustus is an online magazine created by Deanne Piowaty, and it is a beautiful site that offers a variety of interviews and stories on the arts. Piowaty has done excellent work in crafting stories from across all art forms, and we heartily recommend a long, lingering browse of her site.

I have had some very rewarding correspondence with Greg, and some heartening phone conversations with Deanna and Fran. Thank you all.

We want to thank all of these individuals for their work, and for their interest in The Muse Dialogue. We can never learn too much about the arts, or care too much about their future in our schools, in our public spaces, and in our lives.

What Are the Standards, Anyways? Part 2

National Coalition for Core Arts Standards

States are looking at how educational standards can be consistent across the country. Despite federal direction, the states themselves still set their own standards. Yet the implications for the arts remains unclear. Kathleen Dean reflects on the situation in the second part to her series “What Are the Standards Anyways?”

“What Are the Standards Anyways? Part 2″ (click to read full article)

What are the Standards, Anyway?

The standards. It’s a term that gets tossed around frequently in the arts education world, sometimes without the speaker really knowing what it means. Few of us know what they are, and even fewer know what the standards are for the arts. Yes, they do exist; and yes, teachers are expected to teach them! Kathleen Dean discusses arts education standards and testing in her article, “What are the Standards, Anyway?” (click to view full article)

India’s museums and galleries: A definitive divide

Amrita Sher-Gil, Three Girls (public domain)

There is a qualitative difference between Indian art galleries and national museums. Presented with a rising demand for modern and contemporary Indian art, private galleries have garnered acclaim and viability on the global art market. On the other hand, India’s public museums have slipped toward mediocrity, inconspicuously settling amidst the dusty sheets of bureaucracy. What then are we to see for the future of public exhibition of Indian Art? Naina Singh offers her thoughts in “India’s Museums and Galleries: A Definitive Divide.” (click title to view full article)


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