Arts Ed Now campaign launches

TRENTON, NJ — The New Jersey-based Arts Ed Now campaign will officially launch Sept. 12 during national Arts Education Week, with advocates featuring the initiative at local and statewide levels all week long.

Spurred by the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership, N.J. State Council on the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Americans for the Arts, Arts Ed Now is a multiyear campaign designed to increase participation in arts education in schools across New Jersey.

Studies show that students who participate in arts education do better in school and in life, according to an Arts Ed Now release. The longer students are engaged in arts education, the better the outcomes are overall. To heighten the outcomes in New Jersey, Arts Ed Now is focused on increasing participation in every school in the state.

Unfortunately, not all N.J. students have the same access to arts education to be able to participate at high levels — or increase existing participation. Despite state education standards, many schools lag behind in offering all four disciplines of dance, music, theater and visual arts.

To achieve better results, the campaign set the following goals by year 2020: All NJ students will have access to arts education; increase the number of schools providing more than two art forms; increase arts participation in elementary and middle schools to 100 percent; increase participation in high schools to 60 percent; increase school engagement with community resources; and develop a statewide network of local stakeholders

In 1987, Gov. Tom Kean signed the law creating the Literacy in the Arts Task Force to examine the state of arts education in New Jersey.

“Arts Ed Now is the next generation of advocacy for excellent arts education in our state,” Kean said in the release. “I support this campaign and encourage everyone who cares about the future of New Jersey to engage, advocate and do what you have to do to get results for the benefit of students everywhere.”

Arts Ed Now centers its strategy on helping arts education advocates become good ambassadors to advance the issue forward. Through a statewide network, Arts Ed Now brings people together to share information, stories and best practices for increasing participation in arts education. Local communities provide opportunities to test ideas for advocacy, which then get added to the overall campaign tactics and shared statewide for more powerful results overall.

“So many people across the state are already doing great work to increase participation in the arts,” NJAEP Director Bob Morrison said in the release. “We want to highlight those efforts and build on them to amplify the voices of those who care about arts education as strong local ambassadors with the help of Arts Ed Now.”

One such effort is the pilot community of Newark.

“As a large local community addressing its own arts education needs, the Newark Arts Education Roundtable is able to leverage the Arts Ed Now campaign to help ambassadors become even stronger advocates,” NAER Director Lauren Meehan said in the release. “We are also able to provide the support as a pilot community to test and refine the statewide campaign tools in an effort to serve as a model for other communities facing similar challenges as Newark.”