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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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Chapter 11. Discussion of Multiple Perspectives


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This chapter discusses the findings from the in-depth interviews in the light of the research literature. Further, recommendations are formulated based on the findings for improving arts partnerships in educational settings based on the study findings, the research literature, and the principal investigator’s experience in the field across Canada during the implementation of the arts projects.

Partnership Issues

Overall, the data indicate low to moderate levels of collaboration among artists, teachers, and project administrators across the projects. This situation arises from the high level of collaboration in planning but lower levels in project implementation and debriefing. This pattern suggests that collaboration should be emphasized throughout all phases of a project, not just at the outset, and sufficient time provided to do so (Wilkinson, 2000).

Effective communications are essential for the success of projects operating at multiple sites with several partners. With large-scale, multisite projects, a system of communications among partners should be established that ensures regular ongoing contact throughout the duration of a project among ← 93 | 94 → via conferencing, e-mail, telephone, an Internet discussion group, and/or meetings (AEP, 2001).

Partners involved in an arts partnership require the opportunity to undergo professional development, an essential tool for improving the quality of the implementation of projects (Brophy; Seidel & Eppel, 2001). The analysis of partnership issues in this study indicates that artists require knowledge of curricular outcomes and expertise in teaching,...

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