National forum hosted by Southeast Center for Education in the Arts

Pictured: Kim Wheetley, SCEA Executive Director, Lyndhurst Chair of Excellence in Arts Education and Cheri Sterman – Director of Child Development and Consumer Relationships for Crayola.

The Southeast Center for Education in the Arts hosted its third national “Arts & Education Forum: Arts @ the Core of 21st Century Learning” at the Chattanoogan.

Forum participants included 42 presenters who represented 43 organizations from 15 states and Trinidad and Tobago. National organizations included the College Board, Crayola, and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Local institutions included the Creative Discovery Museum and Hunter Museum, Nashville’s Tennessee Performing Arts Center, and Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre. Teachers and students from Barger Academy, Battle Academy, Normal Park Museum Magnet Upper School, and Chattanooga Girls Choir also participated.

Cheri Sterman, director of child development and consumer relationships for Crayola, gave the keynote address “Joining Voices: Arts Advocacy and 21st Century Readiness.”

The forum explored how educators can rally support and funding for arts education in their communities.

“The 3 R’s, reading, writing, and arithmetic, are not enough. Students need to learn communication, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration,” said Sterman.

Sterman’s discussion reinforced the idea that “advocacy begins with belief and results in change.”

Educators need to better explain why children need arts education and cite the benefits, such as better graduation rates and improved test scores.

“They must show that art education has a real economic impact in their community,” Sterman said.

Art education advocates must have an action plan, she said.

“They need to find out who is the decision maker that can help make change. Show them how art can enhance learning in many subjects, and build partnerships within the school and the community,” Sterman explained.

The Forum was conducted in collaboration with the City of Chattanooga’s Department of Education, Arts & Culture with partial funding from the Tennessee Arts Commission.

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