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Working Together

A Case Study of a National Arts Education Partnership


Bernard W. Andrews

Partnerships among a variety of institutions – for profit, not-for-profit, and non-profit – are a relatively recent organizational development. Such partnerships link businesses, government, and social agencies. The primary reason for these relationships is to achieve goals sooner and more efficiently by building on the resources and expertise of each partner. In arts education, schools, arts organizations, cultural institutions, government agencies, and universities have engaged in joint ventures to improve the teaching and learning of the arts disciplines in their schools and in their communities. These partnerships have been particularly beneficial for teachers, many of whom have limited background in the arts but are expected to teach them in their classrooms. Arts partnerships initially focused on the goals of the participating organizations; that is, to develop artistic skills, to build future audiences, and/or to encourage young people to consider an artistic career. More recently, partnerships focus on educational goals rather than solely artistic ones. Despite the challenges and complexities of arts education partnerships, most partners believe that the benefits to students, teachers and the community outweigh the disadvantages and consequently, as the research in Working Together demonstrates, they are willing to justify the time, energy, and expense involved to improve the quality of arts education.


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Bernard W. Andrews’ illuminating case study of a national arts education partnership, collaboratively conducted by ArtsSmarts and cooperating orga- nizations in seven of ten Canadian provinces, reminds us of how valuable arts education can be to our communities and how important it is to initiate each project with knowledge and care. It is sadly ironic that, after more than a decade of outstanding contributions from coast to coast, and several months before the completion of this book, financial challenges resulted in the closure of the national office of ArtsSmarts and the cancellation of all regular pro- gramming and new initiatives. In a way, this book can be seen as a memorial tribute to a remarkable chapter in the development of arts and learning in Canada. Fortunately, ArtsSmarts project activity lives on in the hands of partner organizations. At the same time, the arts education community in Canada is sufficiently robust that other programs, several of which are identified in this study, remain to fill the void left by the closure of the national office. So, it is extremely helpful that Dr. Andrews’ study presents a clear and vibrant recounting of how several participants in ArtsSmarts programs viewed their experiences, as this will enable new projects to benefit from the accumulated knowledge generated by the organization and its partners. viii a case study of a national arts education partnership We can learn a great deal from the observations and recommendations of the 19 artists, 19 teachers, and 15 project coordinators who...

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