Representing each art form, the presidents of the various Utah arts professional organizations created the Utah Arts Education Coalition. Since June 5th, these coalition members have been meeting weekly with Cathy Jensen and other state arts leaders to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on arts education in Utah. The purpose of these meetings is to share up-to-date information and decisions faced by the Utah State Board of Education, Utah legislators, and other state leaders so that the various professional arts organizations and their membership can coordinate efforts to advocate proactively DURING decision-making processes.
The Utah Arts Education Coalition is comprised of Cathy Jensen (USBE), Tamara Burnside (USBE), Melissa Deletant (UAEA), Lori Higbee (UDEO), Todd Campbell (UMEA), Christine Wolf (UMEA), Mindy Curtis (UACCT), and Adam Wilkins (UTA). Weekly discussions included reviewing the notes from the most recent USBE meeting, scientific research results relevant to arts education, and ways the arts organizations could coordinate their advocacy efforts and member resources.
UMEA is leading most collaborative efforts in advocacy, due to the issues and concerns of increased airborne transmission due to singing or playing wind instruments: school leadership could decide that music programs are unable to be facilitated safely and therefore might be cut from schools. UMEA members collaborated with their national organization and created a website and form from which parents and stakeholders could edit and submit a form letter directly to their Utah representatives. Over 2,013 emails advocating for arts education were sent to Utah legislators as a result of the combined efforts of the members of the Utah Arts Education Coalition. At the end of July, a digital meeting was held for all elementary and BTSALP arts educators. During the meeting, Cathy Jensen offered information regarding the current school year; educators were also able to ask questions and share resources within their art form.
Creation of the Utah Arts Education Coalition has strengthened the voice of these professional organizations within the state of Utah and the shared information has reinforced the advocacy response of all organizations.
Resources provided by Utah’s professional arts education organizations
Each professional arts education organization created a pdf document for their members with suggestions for safely conducting education in their art form while returning to school. These documents can be used in conversation with administrators, building directors, parents, students, and colleagues.
Resources provided by the USBE & Fine Arts Office
State administrators in arts education also provided resources for arts educators. These documents outline this year’s essential standards as we work diligently to meet the unique and ever-shifting challenges of an unprecedented time in the history of education.
Written by Melissa Deletant, President of the Utah Arts Education Association, member of the BYU ARTS Partnership Leadership Team, and BTSArts Visual Arts teacher at Lapoint and Naples Elementary in the Uintah School District.