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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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What I found amusing was that we were working right up to the bell at the end of the day, and one boy said to me: “This is the first time ever that I’ve not wanted to leave school and do something else at the end of the day.” —Tanya Sullivan This book provides the perspectives of artists, teachers, and project coordina- tors1 on the effectiveness of the early years of ArtsSmarts, a national arts edu- cation partnership in Canada comprised of school boards, arts organizations, provincial arts councils, and community foundations. This pan-Canadian partnership was initially founded by the J. W. McConnell Family Foundation of Montreal, Quebec, in 1998, and administered by the Canadian Confer- ence of the Arts in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city. Subsequently, the Canadian Education Association administered the program from 2005 to 2008. From 2009 onward, ArtsSmarts functioned as an independent charitable organiza- tion, and commencing in 2011 it was administered from Toronto, Ontario, Canada’s largest-populated city. Unfortunately, due to financial exigencies, the national office closed in 2014 and its assets, such as intellectual property (e.g., research, documentation toolkits, CDs, videos), were transferred to the stewardship of the Arts Network for Children and Youth (ANCY). xvi a case study of a national arts education partnership The primary goal of ArtsSmarts is the formation of sustainable part- nerships between schools and arts organizations that will enable artists and teachers to work together to improve the teaching and learning of the arts in classrooms and in the community....

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