The Arts Make Us Strong

Written by Jody Stokes-Casey

This week the Memphis public art organization UrbanArt Commission (UAC) faced serious budget threats and potential closure from city council. While the decision is put on temporary hold, UAC’s position near the legislation/funding chopping block is alarming. It reminds us of a very real threat not only to public funded art, but also to arts education across our nation, state, and schools.


Art teachers are in a precarious position of simultaneously having to be great at our jobs – teaching art – and strong advocates for our subjects and ourselves.  As we enjoy our much needed summer vacation and begin planning for the next school year, let’s consider how we are incorporating advocacy into our practice.


TAEA is working diligently by dividing the board into sub-committees to develop position statements and seek partnerships to advocate for our members and all art teachers in Tennessee.  Our current and ongoing advocacy initiatives encourage teachers to consider participating in TAEA regional and state conferences to advocate for professional development for fine arts teachers, submitting artwork to the annual TAEA Member Art Exhibition, participating in the Sargent Art Youth Art Month Flag competition, and nominating colleagues for TAEA awards.


Americans for the Arts provides a plethora of art education advocacy tools for teachers to peruse for ideas. The Art of Ed has also compiled advocacy resources. I recently downloaded this coloring sheet to use as an advocacy activity at my school’s fine arts night.


Several members of TAEA are major advocates for art education. Check out Jackie Spaulding Wright’s “Step Up, Speak Out for Art Education” project. Cassie Stephens and Ted Edinger are two of several excellent Tennessee art educators who use social media and blogging to advocate for the arts.


Do you have an advocacy project or tool to share? Consider submitting a proposal to present a Super Session at the October 2017 TAEA State Conference in Memphis. Download the proposal form here.