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Educators, experts share ways to protect arts programs at forum

| Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, 9:02 p.m.
Sarah Tambucci, director of the Arts Education Collaborative in Pittsburgh.
Charles LeClaire
Sarah Tambucci, director of the Arts Education Collaborative in Pittsburgh.
Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts
Strauss Peyton Studios.
Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts
Sandra Ruppert, director of the Arts Education Partnership in Washington D.C.
Sandra Ruppert, director of the Arts Education Partnership in Washington D.C.

Arts-centered learning programs that prepare students for college, careers and citizenship will be on the minds of educators and arts leaders when the Arts Education Partnership convenes Sept. 11 and 12 in Pittsburgh.

The partnership's 2014 National Forum, “Preparing Students for the Next America In and Through the Arts,” will offer solutions, research conclusions and inspiration on providing all students with access to quality arts experiences, the role of arts education to help close the economic-opportunity gap and innovative ways to use resources and technology to support students learning while dealing with education politics, tight budgets and shifting priorities.

The two-day forum at the Marriott City Center Hotel, Downtown, is aimed at national and district leaders in education, arts, business, government and philanthropy, including school-district superintendents, heads of national arts organizations, such as the League of Symphony Orchestras, and foundations that work with educational and arts organizations.

“It's not a convention. It's more a forum for people to learn about what's happening in a part of the country and take the information back to apply at home,” says Sarah Tambucci, director of the Arts Education Collaborative, which has its office in Gateway Center. “It's an ongoing way of keeping all of us connected.”

Tambucci worked with the Arts Education Partnership to bring the 2014 forum to Pittsburgh.

“We have a long-standing tradition of arts education (in Pittsburgh) and an unbelievable ability to collaborate with each other,” Tambucci says. “We work closely and tightly together — arts organizations, independent artists, researchers and educators. We are just the right size to know each other and we know each other well enough.”

Sandra Ruppert, director of the Arts Education Partnership in Washington, D.C., points to three issues upon which the event will focus:

• Sharing information on current projects and policies.

• Networking to connect people who have information with people who need information.

• Making sure the partnership is moving people toward action by fostering collective actions and leadership.

The forum relies on sources from the host city, such as Bill Strickland, president of Manchester Bidwell Corp., who will be the lunchtime keynote speaker Sept. 12.

Others are regional specialists such as Holly Nowak, program director for Erie Arts & Culture; Rosemary A. Omniewski, professor at Edinboro University; and Janyce J. Hyatt, director of Creating Landscapes Learning Center and professor emeritus at Allegheny College who will speak on “Arts Infusion: The Path to 21st Century Learning” on Sept. 11.

Offering insights and inspiration are national authorities, such as Jane Chu, new chairman for the National Endowment of the Arts, who will speak at the forum kick-off on Sept. 11.

“I have found that the Arts Education Partnership's strategic plan is aligned with the NEA,” Chu says. “It's an opportunity not only to talk about (that) but thank them, as well.

“When people understand the impact arts education makes on students, as well as districts, it's easier to say we can't do without the arts,” she says.

Alice T. Carter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808, or via Twitter @ATCarter_Trib.

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