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On Being an Arts Advocate A D V O C A C Y Pam Stephens W hen you hear the phrase "arts education advocate," what comes to mind? Do you envision someone supporting the arts in your school, district, or community? Is that per - son a politician? An administrator? A s chool board member? A business owner? Parents? Could it be (should it be) you? Advocacy as Necessity Those of us who work in arts educa- tion—especially in K–12 settings— understand the need to be active arts education advocates; however, this reality often comes as a surprise to preservice educators. Exploring the importance of advocacy and how to become a strong arts advocate are threads that weave throughout the art education courses that I teach. Here's one way that I introduce arts advo- cacy to beginning students: 1. Place participants in small groups. 2. Assign a recorder and a reporter for each group. 3. Ask groups to define the term "advocacy" and share their defini- tions with the class. 4. After a refined definition of advocacy is determined, provide this quote from the Roman poet Ovid: "Dripping water hollows out a stone; not through force, but through persistence." 5. In advocacy, who is the dripping water? Who is the stone? 6. What action does the dripping water (advocacy) have on the stone? How do you know? Beginning with One After this activity, I explain that arts advocacy begins with a single person—an individual who supports and defends the arts through ongoing written and spoken communication. This initial communication can be as simple as speaking to a colleague or displaying student artwork with descriptive wall text. Arts advocacy grows as that single person generates positive actions that include others. For example, meeting with teachers of other content areas to plan mean- ingful cross-curricular activities promotes collaboration that, in turn, expands the realm of arts advocacy. When others see positive learning outcomes generated by engaging chil- dren in rigorous visual arts study, new exponents join the arts education advocacy team. Continuing with You As advocates for the arts, group efforts serve as those soft drops of water that slowly cut away stonelike prejudice, skepticism, and misunderstandings about learning in and through the arts. Whether you are new to the field of art teaching or have been teaching for a while, advocacy is an indispens- able key to larger success. I encourage you to be an active member of your state and national art education asso- ciations, attend and present at confer- ences, give talks to parent groups, go to school board meetings, or partici- pate in any number of other activities that bring attention to the arts in edu- cation. Pam Stephens is a SchoolArts contribut- ing editor and professor of art education at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff. Pamela.Stephens@ nau.edu W E B L I N K www.kennedy-center.org/education/ kcaaen/resources/ArtsEducationAdvo- cacyToolkit.pdf Advocac egins with a single person—an individual who supports and defends the arts through ongoing written and spoken communication. Effective exhibition of student artwork includes descriptive wall text. 12 DECEMBER 2016 SchoolArts