For over 30 years, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (NJSCA) has recognized the value of partnerships. The foundation of the Artists-in-Education Program (AIE) is the partnership between professional artists and educators in order to bring students excellent arts education. The NJSCA is pleased to be working in partnership with two outstanding arts education organizations—Arts Horizons and Young Audiences New Jersey—as cosponsors of the Artists-in-Education Program. This partnership, the AIE Consortium, has been placing professional artists in New Jersey schools and community settings for longterm residencies (minimum 20-days) since 1998. These residencies provide learners with hands-on experience and high-quality education in a variety of art forms.
This handbook is built on the foundation and framework, learned over 30 years, of the elements that have proven to be essential for an effective and successful residency. It represents the cumulative experience of teachers, administrators, artists, students, parents and others in designing, planning, implementing and evaluating effective residencies. It is also based on extensive field research that reaffirms what needs to be in place and the impact of successful residencies.
One of the essential elements of this longterm residency model is time. Shorter-term residencies have value and impact, too. But as noted scholar, author and Harvard University professor Howard Gardner observed, “...artistic learning should be organized around meaningful projects, which are carried out over a significant period of time, and allow ample opportunity for feedback, discussion, and reflection. Such projects are likely to interest students, to motivate them, to encourage them to develop skills; and may well exert a long-term impact on students’ competence and understanding. As much as possible, “one-shot” learning experiences should be spurned.”2 Long term residencies also have the potential to contribute to school improvement and change. The Chicago Arts Partnership in Education states, “If the world of the arts is going to be a real part of whole school improvement, long term relationships between arts organizations and schools are essential.”
In this 20-day mural residency, teaching artist Ginny Nichols worked with art teacher, Eve Purcell, the 4th and 5th grade teachers, and mentor artist Nanci Hersh. They enhanced and inspired the learning and creative process for the 77 students who focused on an underwater sea theme to paint four huge panels which were joined together and hung on the back stage wall. The teaching artist also partnered with the art teacher to develop and introduce projects for each grade level which enriched the school arts program and connected to their science curriculum. PTA parents supported the residency as volunteer studio assistants helping with set up and clean up during the process of painting the mural. They also planned and hosted the culminating event – a family picnic to unveil the mural and exhibit all the related art work from each grade – where students shared their viewpoints on the impact of this powerful arts experience.
Ann Szalay, PTA Coordinator, wrote, “The benefits of the AIE residency were felt on a student, staff and community level. Firstly, one of the most valuable tools the students walked away from this residency with was teamwork and collaboration. Students learned to be respectful and thoughtful of each other’s opinions and work. This is a lesson that will not only be carried into the classroom but will carry on throughout their lives. Secondly, the residency also opened up the horizon for the teachers to integrate the arts into their curriculum. Teachers saw that a large-scale project is not only possible but that students worked together and enjoyed it. Lastly, the school community saw first hand how important and beneficial the arts are to a student’s education. As a result of this residency, more parents have expressed interest in participating in the cultural arts programming opportunities.”
Latest research data cites the intrinsic benefits of the long-term residency experience and the power of arts in education on teachers, artists, administrators, parents, and the general public. Arts education builds life-long skills which strengthen an individual’s ability to engage in today’s world. The resource section of this handbook offers links to websites which describe model programs and best practices developed by arts-ineducation programs. The experience of a hands-on arts process lead by a professional teaching artist is an important opportunity to include in every child’s education.
Now with the vital data and the information provided by the first arts education survey of all New Jersey public schools via the NJ Arts Education Census Project (available on-line at www.artsednj.org), organizations and agencies can better target resources to schools in need. Within Our Power: the Progress, Plight and Promise of Arts Education for Every Child, the executive report of that project, states that much work has to be done to make quality arts programs accessible to all NJ students. That same report chronicles and recommends that more schools look to innovative practices such as residencies to enhance existing programs or spark new curriculum. As schools identify their own ongoing needs and education goals, this handbook will serve to strengthen the way in which they engage community sites, teaching artists and cultural organizations to form a statewide community of learning. As the idea of learning grows to encompass both in school and out of school time, artists-in-education will be recognized as effective and creative partners.
This Handbook expands upon the components presented in the AIE Guidelines to offer best practices applicable to any residency. Ideally, teachers, school and arts administrators, site coordinators and artists will use both the AIE Residency Guidelines and this AIE Handbook side by side while developing their residency proposals, and then as instructional support throughout the entire residency process.
2 Howard Gardner, 1989, pp. 76-77 Gardner, H. (1989). Zero-based arts education: An introduction to Arts PROPEL. Studies in Art Education: A Journal of Issues and Research, 30 (2), 71-83.