Author: Lauren Jacobs, Programs Committee Member

Tell Me a Story: The Roundtable Digs into Research

As we all know, the NYC DOE and funders of all types have begun to request research-based funding arguments with increasing frequency. As many of us do not have the resources to conduct our own research, it behooves us to know how to access, interpret, and leverage already-existing research to anchor our own stories. On Friday, November 15 at Manhattan Theatre Club’s administrative offices, the Roundtable gathered to explore tactics for doing just that.

In facilitated small groups we discussed the following research reports and created action plans for using this and other research to enhance programming, fundraising, and advocacy.

New Opportunities for Interest Driven Arts Learning in a Digital Age
By Kylie Peppler, Commissioned by The Wallace Foundation, 2013
facilitated by Jessica Wilt, Programs Committee Co-chair

How A Nation Engages with Art: Highlights from the 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts
National Endowment for the Arts, 2013
facilitated by Jessica Handrik

The Educational Value of Field Trips (summarizing the study conducted by the University of Arkansas)
By Jay P. Greene, Brian Kisida and Daniel H. Bowen, Education Next, Winter 2014, Volume 14, No 1
facilitated by Brooke Boertzel

The Qualities of Quality: Understanding Excellence in Arts Education By Steve Seidel, Shari Tishman, Ellen Winner, Lois Hetland and Patricia Palmer Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Commissioned by The Wallace Foundation and Arts Education Partnership, 2009
facilitated by Lauren Jacobs, Programs Committee Secretary

Each group enjoyed a productive discussion and shared its findings with all attendees at the end of the session. Some of the many helpful ideas generated throughout the evening included:

using communally-designed protocols to align students, teachers/teaching artists, administrators, parents, and funders with respect to pedagogical goals, including providing quality arts learning experiences, digital and technological learning experiences, and field trips;

articulating the multiple purposes and successes of each of our programs within the context of the current downtrend in live arts learning in order to emphasize the programs’ value to funders and partners;

using student surveys, teacher reflections, photographs, videos, and portfolios to provide both quantitative and qualitative presentations for funders and stakeholders;

asking for “meta-funding,” the funding for documentation of our work that will then provide more insight into its quality as well as its rates of success; and

including school administration in pedagogical and funding discussions in order to impress upon them a) the types of learning that are actually taking place and b) the need for support for our programs, including funding for their documentation.

At the end of the event, we participants felt better able to anchor our stories with research. The Roundtable plans to continue this investigative process through similar workshops in the future.