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For the Greater Good: A Framework for Advancing State Arts Education Partnerships

October 17, 200517 October 2005

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This study summarizes factors that have contributed to successful arts education partnerships at the state level in the US. Much of the advice on how to build and sustain arts education partnerships is relevant for Canadians and others looking to move arts education projects forward. The study identifies “an influential triad” in arts education partnerships: arts agencies, departments of education and arts education advocacy organizations. Where effective collaborations have been established between these three types of organizations, the results have been substantial in terms of arts education programming, policy and advocacy.

The study notes that “arts education has occupied an increasingly prominent place in public policy discussions of the arts”, but that the “challenge continues to be in developing the organizational capacity and support infrastructures needed to adequately address the increasing demand for quality, sequential arts education in our schools.”

The study identifies some factors as assets in arts education partnerships: shared vision; common expectations; flexibility for roles to evolve; strategic use of resources; trust; regular communication protocol; clarity of who gets credit; and a consistent focus on the impact of the work. Some partnership challenges include: conflict in organizational values and cultures; different priorities; unclear authority lines and boundaries; lean budgets; lack of public support; lack of a catalyst; confusion; and lack of direction or sense of completion. The study notes that some factors “are fluid and continually evolve depending on timing and circumstances”. The study explains each factor and summarizes advice from experienced arts education partners on challenges to watch out for and how to turn some of them into assets. The study also identifies some environmental conditions, including political, economic, demographic and geographic conditions, that can impact partnership building and sustainability.

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