The Mother of Invention

Sometimes you see an errand that needs to be run, but you are the only one in the house with your shoes on.

That’s how I felt one afternoon last January. I was participating in a meeting organized by Lisa Moore, the founder and former director of the former organization, Successful Schools In Action (SSIA). The topic was “Exploring Arts Partnerships.” Kathleen Allen, the former Arts Liaison for Seattle Public Schools was there, as well as Bonnie Showers, the former director of the former Giant Magnet (formerly known as the Seattle International Children’s Festival). Also in attendance were a number of parents from Seattle public schools who were interested in bringing more experience of the arts into the context of their students’ classrooms.

We were still introducing ourselves, when I heard a parent thanking Kathleen and Bonnie for recommending One World Taiko when she was looking for an Asian drumming group to visit her child’s school. I thought: I could have told her that! I hired One World Taiko for  Lafayette Elementary in West Seattle when I was a parent there–twice. They are excellent.

It occurred to me then that there was no resource that I was aware of to give parents like myself a chance to share information on bringing more arts to their children’s schools. And, after doing this sort of thing for many years at my daughters’ schools, I have gathered enough information and experience to perhaps help others who want to do the same.

I hate to state the obvious here, but increasing students’ exposure to the arts in public schools is not getting any easier. Kathleen Allen is no longer the Seattle Public Schools Arts Liaison. SPS merged her position with their Community Liaison and laid her off last March. SSIA no longer exists. Giant Magnet closed its doors last May. All the resources at the table last January are now former resources. Unless a student has access to funding for a private school, a broad education that includes the arts will be difficult to get.

Not that SPS isn’t trying, sort of. In 2008, Seattle Public Schools carried out a survey to discover how much of the arts existed in its district. It was the first district wide look at arts teaching and activities in its schools since the 1970s.

Claudia Bach, of AdvisArts, was the consultant hired by SPS. Claudia concluded her survey by commenting that it was clear to her that the responsibility of getting the arts into Seattle schools rested largely on the shoulders of parents, through their fundraising and organizational efforts.

With resources dwindling, it really is up to us public school parents to get the arts into our schools. So here I am, attempting to rise to the occasion by starting this blog.

I’ve got my shoes on, just let me get my coat…

2 responses to “The Mother of Invention

  1. Dear Margaret: I don’t know if you’re aware that since 1998 I have been involved in the Ballard High School Foundation – for two years as president and 10 years chairman of the art committee. We had the advantage of moving into a new building with lots of big empty walls and since then have put together an art collection of about 60 paintings and 2 sculptures. We’ve just completed a video catalog that includes not only descriptions of the works but interviews with some of the artists and people like me involved in the collection. We now are teaching some of the art students to become docents so we’re into an interesting new step. If you’d like to talk about it feel free to call.

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