Guest Blog: Will this "Reality Check" Bounce?

sandy seufert

Will this 'Reality Check' Bounce?

The second in a series of guest blogs by Sandy Seufert, Manager of Curriculum and Teaching Artist Development at the Music Center: Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County.

Despite news of nascent economic recovery, teaching artists and other professionals in arts education might be wondering if and when the future will look brighter. Later this year? Next year? Before the world ends in 2012?

No matter your personal circumstances, see if you can imagine a world where the arts are so valued in the education of every child, that removing or diminishing them would be unimaginable. Doesn't that sound like a wonderful world? I don't know if it is just my perception, but lately it feels like something has taken hold of a piece of yarn from the end of a large sweater we have all been knitting collectively (Arts for All, the LAUSD 10-year plan, funding from major foundations, teaching artists in schools) and has been pulling it out, row by row. In fact, it is has been happening so quickly, that if we blink, a new normal in education might not include the arts or at least only in a marginalized form.

But here is the catch. With so much going on in the world, we can feel uncomfortable or even guilty to make a case for arts education, especially where everywhere you see there are hard cuts and hard choices. I am not advocating for necessarily taking away services from others to keep the arts intact. I am suggesting that we not lose the VISION or the hope. But hope is often helped along by taking positive action.

If you are a teaching artist that is out of work, under-employed or wondering even how to break into this field, keep believing in the future. Now is a good time to get more education in areas that you need more support. There are several ways for teaching artists and others to connect, network, and learn new skills though places like the Arts Ed Roundtable from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission (go to ). Also, the Music Center has free Teaching Artist Seminars available for the community (go to ). Just start somewhere so that you can ask questions, meet people, and learn.

But our economic recovery and the future of arts education has a lot more to do than keeping the focus on the self. Another important action to take to keep that vision of a robust and vital arts community is to be aware of and take part in positive action in areas of advocacy and policy. It's time to take out your 'Citizen Card' and use it. Write letters in support of local, state and national arts education initiatives. Get to know your elected officials. They actually work for YOU, and you have more power and influence as a voting citizen than you realize.

If enough of us believe in the arts and its value to keep our children and society healthy and whole, it will thrive. Several small actions can add up to visible and substantive change. Please share your thoughts and strategies for getting through these tough times in arts education.