Cultural Data Project – Friend or Foe?

When the Cultural Data Project (CDP) reporting process was rolled out some years ago, it seemed a great idea – arts organizations could complete one comprehensive online report that would work for a slew of grant makers. It didn’t take long for reality to set in. We would in fact be digging really deeply into all aspects of our organization to conduct a comprehensive survey AND the rest of the reporting work didn’t seem to go away. Then there were the scary e-mails from CDP outlining all the errors in our reports and worse than that were phone calls from extremely perky and helpful CDP staffers asking about the intricacies of long-forgotten calculations.

But CDP has been working diligently to turn what was perceived as a burden into a valuable resource. Becoming an independent organization a year ago, CDP is reinforcing its goal to be a “powerful online management tool designed to strengthen arts and cultural organizations.”

New tools have made the online system easier to use and expanded educational offerings help the field use data more effectively to tell the organization’s story.  In addition, CDP is now the holder of a vast collection of original data from the field, which is available for cultural research projects (by application).

CDP is promising more great things ahead, while “building critical information resources and skills that will advance the sector in the future.”  The field will eventually find that what was once a burdensome drain will actually help us tell our stories to funders, audiences, and stake-holders, and will enrich the field. And in any case, those of us who are in New York State now have Grants Gateway to deal with. One day, perhaps, we will appreciate having all our documents in an online vault and realize that it’s good for the sector.

Cultural Data Project


DOE New Arts Initiative

Updates on the new Department of Education arts and schools partnership initiatives

By Jenny Clarke

Here is a brief update on the city’s new arts education initiative. These are the initiatives that were presented by Paul King at the Roundtable event in September. Click here for a summary from the September 23 event.

♦ Recipients of the Arts and Family Engagement program were announced on February 5, 2015. For this first cycle of Arts and Family Engagement grants, 26 schools will receive grants totaling more than $75,000 in the 2014-15 school year. Awardees were selected from 55 applications received from schools throughout the city (8-Bronx, 20-Brooklyn, 14-Manhattan, 11-Queens, 2-Staten Island). Individual grants range up to $3,000, to be used for arts partnerships that enhance parent, family, and community engagement around the arts. See list of partnerships.

♦ The first cycle of Arts Continuum partnerships was announced by the Office of Arts and Special Projects in December. 21 partnerships were funded (42 schools), including 18 Roundtable member organizations. Click here to see list of approved partnerships.

Additional Program Components:

♦ The city has hired, or is in the process of hiring, new arts teachers that are being placed in middle and high schools across the city. As of the beginning of the school year, 60+ teachers had already been hired, with other schools still seeking qualified applicants. As you may know the city lifted the hiring freeze on arts teachers (music, dance, theater, visual arts) so there should be a crop of new arts teachers interested in applying to work in city schools now and in the future.

♦ The Office of Arts and Special Projects has also hired Borough Arts Directors to facilitate arts programming in each of the five boroughs. These additional staff are charged with helping schools improve and expand arts education, with a special focus on schools not meeting state requirements for arts instruction. They have also hired several central staffers to help manage the new programs. For cultural organizations the person to contact would be Ben Espinosa, the new Arts Partnership Manager. His e-mail address is

The firve Borough Arts Directors are:

Joanna Berenson:

Jessica Englehart Goffredo:

Joy Pace:

Rachel Shapiro:

Janet Cela Velasquez:

♦ 53 city schools will receive grants totaling $740,000 to support school-based arts residencies that will serve English Language Learners and Students with Disabilities.  Click here for a list of schools and their cultural partners.

We will continue to provide updates on the initiative moving forward.

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Announces FREE Professional Development series

By Jenny Clarke

LMCC recently announced its 2014 Professional Development Program, a suite of free workshops and intensive seminars on timely issues in the areas of business and professional practice, as essential supports to artistic practice and community/audience engagement. These programs are designed specifically for artists living and working in New York City in an effort to foster learning and dialogue, as well as to create robust and expanding networks for participants.

LMCC wants to ensure that a diverse range of artists know about current opportunities, given the need they have been hearing in the field for information and resources responding to some of the issues artists have faced after Superstorm Sandy. The three upcoming workshops are:

March 11: Arts & Insurance
March 20: What Your Archive Can Do for You
March 26: Rights & Relationships

Visit the LMCC website for more information and to RSVP:

Please consider sharing this information with your constituency and the artists you work with. And if you are an artist, please consider signing up!

Arts Education Transforms Societies

President & CEO of Americans for the Arts, Robert L. Lynch provides research data on important outcomes of arts education.

By Jenny Clarke

Robert L. Lynch’s October 2014 article “Arts Education Transforms Societies” provides new data on the powerful “trickle-up” effect of arts education on a modern innovative workforce. According to Lynch, recent research by Americans for the Arts shows that the impact of arts education lies far beyond the accepted notion that the arts are an important part of education.

Lynch’s article examines impact on employment data, graduation rates, drop-out rates, and more.  According to Lynch, arts education increases employment rates by raising high-school graduation rates. Last year, high school graduates had a 3.5 percent lower unemployment rate than those without diplomas. And when exposed to arts education, students of all backgrounds are more likely to graduate. Americans for the Arts’ research shows that low-income students who are highly engaged in the arts are more than twice as likely to graduate from college as their peers with no arts education. Additionally, low-income students with a high participation in the arts have a dropout rate of 4 percent, in contrast to their peers with a low participation in the arts who have a dropout rate of 22 percent.

Students with exposure to arts education are also more prepared for the jobs of today and those of the future.  Americans for the Arts and the Conference Board’s joint “Ready to Innovate” report shows that 72 percent of business leaders say that creativity is the number one skill they look for when hiring, and a subsequent report credits arts education as key to a student gaining that creativity.

Lynch closes by saying that “it’s an issue not just for parents, but for all of us: to ensure a flexible, innovative and employable workforce, we need creative, curious citizens who have been educated in the arts.”

The article is filled with vital data that can be utilized for advocacy and funding for arts education field-wide. Read the full article in the Huffington Post here.

Maxine Greene – A Celebration of Her Life and Work

Colleagues and friends from the arts in education community gathered at Symphony Space on October 23 to remember Maxine Greene.

By Jenny Clarke

Members of the arts in education community gathered on October 23, 2014, to celebrate the life and work of Maxine Green, who died on May 29 at the age of 96. Lincoln Center Education and The Maxine Greene Center co-sponsored the event at Symphony Space, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

The evening featured performances, remarks, video montage and remembrance of the varied and remarkable connections she made in our field during her lifetime. Among those speaking were NYC Arts in Education Roundtable Board Members David Shookhoff and Madeline Cohen.

Dr. Greene was known as an educational philosopher, author, social activist and teacher who advanced experiential and inquiry-based learning. She served as an advocate for aesthetic education in American public schools for more than half a century and influenced thousands of educators to bring the vitality of the arts to teachers and children.

The October 23rd celebration was a personal and heartfelt tribute to the impact Dr. Greene has had on our field . . . and our world.

Reused Materials for Creativity and Learning

This morning, I was looking at images of last night’s Halloween parade in the Village, marveling at the creativity of costumes, puppets, banners, and art on display. It seems as if Halloween brings out our passion for creating an altered persona and world, weaving together creative imagination and a variety of repurposed materials.

These images led me to thinking about the greatest NYC resource in our field for repurposed materials of every conceivable kind, and that is Materials for the Arts (MFTA). If your organization is not registered and you haven’t engaged in MFTA programs or visited the warehouse in Queens, a review of programs and services is highly recommended.

The MFTA warehouse is operated by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs with additional support from the City’s Departments of Sanitation and of Education. MFTA collects unneeded items from businesses and individuals, and makes these donations available for free to its recipients: nonprofit organizations with arts programming, government agencies, and public schools.

On any visit, you can expect to find stacks and stacks of useful supplies – bolts of fabric, every kind of paper and card, buckets full of buttons, boxes of feathers, paint, wood, furniture, equipment, and almost anything you can think of.

Friends of Materials for the Arts is the nonprofit partner that guides and supports educational programming, warehouse operations, programmatic initiatives and other goals of MFTA. Visit the Friends website to find out more about classes, p-credit courses, and useful resources such as sample lesson plans.

MTFA’s educational programming focuses on creative reuse: making art with readily available materials and the ever-changing MFTA warehouse inventory. The Center hosts programs in two studios, organizes exhibitions of recipient artwork at MFTA Gallery, and sends teaching artists into the community to share the art of reuse. Some examples of programs:

♦ Professional development for teachers workshops help educators learn engaging projects for lessons in all content areas.

♦ Field Trips:  Tour the MFTA warehouse.

♦ In-school residencies: Bring Materials for the Arts to your school or site to enhance and reinforce curricula in math, science, social studies, and language arts.

♦ Art booths and Family Engagement Nights: Creative reuse program or art booth designed for a large audience, or a series of in-class art workshops linked to your curriculum

♦ Public Programs: Exhibitions, open studio nights, and workshops open to the public

♦ Teambuilding Workshops: Volunteer and then work together to create large-scale collaborative art pieces such as quilts, sculptures, or mosaics

There is an application process and applicants need to meet eligibility requirements. Visitors need to make an appointment prior to shopping at the warehouse. Click here for eligibility and application information.

Materials for the Arts is located at 33-00 Northern Boulevard, 3rd Floor, Long Island City, NY 11101. Click here for hours and directions

For teachers, teaching artists, schools and non-profit arts organizations, the MFTA warehouse is a treasure trove! Enjoy your visit!

The warehouse

Grants available to make arts accessible to the hard of hearing or deaf

The Theatre Development Fund (TDF) TAP Plus program, in partnership with NYSCA is making grants of $5,000 available to NYSCA grantees.

By Jenny Clarke

Theatre Development Fund’s (TDF) TAP Plus program, in partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, makes available grants of up to $5,000 for open captioning services in order to increase attendance by people who are hard of hearing or deaf at cultural events that are open to the public in New York State. TAP Plus strongly encourages applications from all regions of the state.

Information on open captioning and a service fee guide are available on our website at TDF also can assist in planning an accessible project for people with hearing disabilities.

TAP Plus is an extension of TDF’s award-winning TDF Accessibility Programs (TAP) which offer services for theatregoers with physical disabilities, as well as individuals on the autism spectrum. TAP is beginning its 17th season of open captioned performances of Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre.

Applicants must be current NYSCA grantees.

Deadline:Monday, November 24, 2014

Events must be open to the public and take place between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015 in NY State.

Notification: January 31, 2015

More info:
212-912-9770 ext. 380

City Funds for After School Programs – CASA

NYC announces $7.1m funds for after school arts programs in all five boroughs. CASA designations will be made by September 17, 2014.

By Jenny Clarke

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs has announced that $7.1M has been allocated to the Cultural After-School Adventures Program (CASA), an initiative that supports cultural activities that occur after-school at public schools in all five boroughs. In order to be eligible for these funds, organizations must have submitted an FY15 Cultural Development Fund (CDF) application or renewal form, or be a members of the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG).

CASA partnerships provide after-school programs that enhance students’ core curriculum with cultural experiences. The dimension and substance of each CASA program may be as diverse in approach as the cultural organizations that provide them, however all CASA programs share a common commitment to promoting intellectual and creative exploration as well as developing the skills of the participants.

For Fiscal 2015, each City Council member may designate seven partnerships between schools and eligible cultural organizations.  Up to three of each Council member’s designations may be to one cultural group, but each program must have a different school partner. Note that the school’s participation in this program is critically important. The cultural organization and the school become partners in serving the needs of the students participating in the program.

Once designations are made and ratified by City Council, designees will be required to submit a CASA proposal to DCA and comply with all reporting requirements.  Organizations will be notified of these requirements via email when award notifications are made.

CASA designations will be determined between now and September 17. If you are interested in being considered for an FY15 CASA designation, please Contact the Council member/s for the district/s in which your organization is located or where it provides programs, and express your interest in participating in CASA. If you are currently working with a school that may wish to be designated, the school should contact the Council member to express interest in being considered for the CASA program as well, and note their existing partnership with your organization.

While the FY15 CASA designations are the responsibility of the Council members, DCA staff will be able to help with any questions:

For CIG, contact either Leonard Jacobs ( or James Fisher (

For Program Services Unit/CDF Groups, contact your Program Specialist, or David Andersson (

A Little Light Reading! "Art for Art’s Sake? The Impact of Arts Education"

By Theodore Wiprud

With the last few days of summer, I’ve actually had a few hours to peruse reports and listen to CDs people send me.  So here I am scanning a publication from OECD – the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, based in Paris, titled Art for Art’s Sake? The Impact of Arts Education (  A tidy 264-page 2013 book, it understandably went on my “read-later” shelf, and this may not sound like the most inspiring reading to launch a new season. But I’m glad I did finally open it (and I hope many others in the Roundtable have done so already).

Ellen Winner, Thalia Goldstein, and Stéphan Vincent-Lancrin undertake a massive meta-analysis of studies published in any OECD country, since the 2000 publication of Hetland and Winner’s “Reviewing Education and the Arts.”  Literally hundreds of studies about non-arts outcomes in every arts discipline are combined for statistical power.  And the result remains pretty similar to what was found in 2000 – that compelling findings in some studies are balanced by mixed or negative findings in others, so that almost every claim we might advance about transfer of skills or creativity or behavior modification is suspect.

I do not find this discouraging, and I don’t think you should either.  I‘ve always thought seeking such correlation and justification outside the arts can be interesting, but can easily distract us from the real substance of the arts.   Ultimately, as the authors say, “the impact of arts education on other non-arts skills and on innovation in the labor market should not be the primary justification for arts education in today’s curricula.  The arts have been in existence since the earliest humans, are parts of all cultures, and are a major domain of human experience… The arts are important in their own rights for education.”

They also remind us that it’s the teaching that makes the difference.  An inspiring science teacher can have more impact on creativity than a dull music teacher.  It’s not the dance class per se changes everything for a kid, it’s the dancer as teacher, and it’s dancing itself.  If we promote the subject matter as a silver bullet for learning, we’re chasing rainbows.

Access to arts education is critical, and still way too uneven, as we are newly aware through recent NYC-based reports.  But I think it’s time for our conversation to move on from simply who’s getting the arts or not, to what kind of instruction is going on.  We’ve been at this for decades now in cultural organizations and as teaching artists, and for far longer in regular school-based instruction.  We have a good idea what good teaching looks like – granted it can take many, many forms.  It’s up to us to bring the promise of the arts alive in teaching and learning.  Every day.  I find that a bracing and inspiring thought for the coming year.

And I also get a little thrill out of the idea that OECD, looking out for economic development of 34 countries, with a budget of $500 million, commissions a report on this topic.  That’s a big-time forum.

Face to Face 2015 Breakout Session Proposal Deadline is Around the Corner

Roundtable members are starting to talk about the workshop they would like to propose for the 2015 Face to Face conference.

By Jenny Clarke

The RFP for the 2015 Face to Face Conference is out! Arts in Education practitioners and experts in the field are starting to think about the kinds of sessions they could bring to the 500+ arts education professions who will convene for two days of exploration and sharing on Tuesday, April 7 and Wednesday, April 8 2015.

At the recent Proposal Information Session, facilitated by Conference Co-Chairs Kathleen Christie and Joe Giardina, representatives from 12 organizations learned more about the process of applying and facilitating a workshop and shared their ideas. Christie and Giardina outlined the priorities that the Proposal Review Committee will be looking for, including: detailed and well-developed session descriptions; sessions that will allow attendees to explore something new at a deep level; new content; and new voices. The Committee is looking for sessions that give participants a sense that they have learned something highly relevant that they can implement in their work and that they could not find elsewhere.

The Roundtable usually receives approximately 65 session proposals and selects 35 of them (36 in 2014).  The revised deadline for proposals is September 24. See the RFP for submission details.

The Evaluation Report from Face to Face 2014 will be available soon. If you would like feedback from a session you facilitated, contact Jenny Clarke, Managing Director of the Roundtable:

To reflect on highlights from Face to Face 2014, see sample Tweets on Storify.

Please note that the correct dates of the conference are Tuesday, April 7 and Wednesday, April 8 and not those stated in the original RFP. The revised RFP is posted here and on the Face to Face page.