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RACC taps key partners to help The Right Brain Initiative expand arts education in the region

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) has selected three key partners to help integrate the arts into the education of every K-8 student in the region’s school districts by 2012. Young Audiences, Deborah Brzoska and Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf join the collaboration of artists, arts organizations, school districts, parents, governments, businesses and donors who are working together as agents of change for arts education in the Portland tri-county region. RACC is the managing partner of this effort, and a Governing Committee of community leaders oversees all aspects of the program.

Young Audiences Arts for Learning, Oregon & SW Washington serves as Implementation Partner. With 50 years of experience connecting professional teaching artists with classrooms, Young Audiences served 94,768 students in 232 schools across 32 districts in 10 counties in Oregon and SW Washington last year. In this new role for The Right Brain Initiative, Young Audiences manages the selection of artists and arts organizations who will help teachers integrate the arts across the curriculum in 20 pilot schools this spring – and ultimately for every child in the region. Young Audiences also oversees the planning between artists and teachers and coordinates the resultant classroom arts experiences.

“Young Audiences brings a strong history of using the arts to help learning come alive for K-12 students,” said Eloise Damrosch, Executive Director of RACC. “What makes The Right Brain Initiative different from what Young Audiences has done before is that we are now working with a broad coalition of community partners, both public and private, to create an equitable and sustainable arts education delivery system. Having the arts in our schools shouldn’t be contingent on a strong economy or an active PTA fundraising effort; every student in every school deserves quality arts education experiences – and the entire community will benefit as a result.”

“All of us at Young Audiences are honored to play a major role in this broad community effort to reverse the trend of declining arts education in our public schools,” said Gail Hayes Davis, Executive Director of Young Audiences. “We have a strong knowledge of arts curricula, but too many of our schools have been forced to eliminate arts education even though we know the arts help our children do better in school. Clearly it takes a collaboration as bold as The Right Brain Initiative to ensure that every child has access to arts education. Now, we are on our way to achieving this vision.”

In one of their first tasks as Implementation Partner, Young Audiences helped identify the 50 artists and arts organizations that will collaborate with The Right Brain Initiative in 2009:

Okaidja Afroso (music/dance)

Al-Andalus (music/dance)

Albert Alter (drama)

Artists Repertory Theatre (drama)

Turiya Autry (spoken word)

BodyVox (dance)

Tami Castillo Gray (dance/drama)

Dance Like the Stars (dance)

Randi Douglas (theater)

Bernie Duffy (drama)

Wendy Dunder (visual arts)

John Early (visual arts)

Earth Arts (multiple)

Rachel Foxman (storytelling)

Caren Graham (drama)

Grupo Condor with Gerardo Calderon (music)

Hector Hernandez (visual arts)

Clay Hoffman (visual arts)

Homowo African Arts & Cultures (music/dance)

Julie Keefe (photography/writing)

Tyler Kohlhoff (photography/writing)

Kathryn Kramer Waters (theater/creative writing/visual arts)

Noah Martin (theater)

Rick Meyers (music)

Mudeye Puppet Company (drama)

Buff Medb Neretin (visual arts)

Nomadic Theatre Co (drama)

Pamela Norris (dance)

Northwest Children’s Theater (theater)

Oregon Children’s Theatre (theater)

Oregon Symphony (music)

Greta Pedersen (music)

Mark Pomeroy (fiction/poetry)

Portland Children’s Museum (visual arts)

Portland Taiko (multiple)

Donna Prinzmetal (creative writing)

Renegade Minstrels (music)

Peggy Ross (visual arts)

Anne Rutherford (storytelling)

Rodolfo Serna (mural art)

Maria Simon (visual arts)

Nancy Smith Klos (visual arts)

Margaret Snow Benoit (visual arts)

Scott Sutton (painting/ garden art)

Annie Stecker (visual arts)

Mark Steering (music)

Anne-Louise Sterry (music)

Tears of Joy Theatre (puppet theater)

Viva la Cultura! (music/dance)

Carla Wilson (music)

This spring, The Right Brain Initiative will engage these artists to work with teachers to develop and integrate arts learning experiences across the curriculum, reaching more than 9,500 students in 20 schools throughout Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. The program is expected to double in size each year until every K-8 student in the tri-county region is served. Each participating school district has invested funds to cover the cost of teacher planning and arts programming, while the region’s local governments and contributions from the private sector will help cover the costs of managing the program and training artists and teachers.

Deborah Brzoska is the Professional Development Partner for The Right Brain Initiative, responsible for training artists and teachers to see the natural connections in their work providing new approaches to increase literacy.  Deb is a national leader in arts education who presents professional development for teachers and teaching artists across the country on behalf of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. A former dancer and teacher, Deb was also the founding principal of an award- winning arts-based public school in Vancouver, Washington.  Deb has developed state and national arts standards and assessments and has been a school change coach for the Small Schools Project of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She has presented arts education workshops, seminars and institutes in nearly all fifty states and from Cairo to Samoa, including a statewide teaching artist training project in Hawaii. Deb is on the editorial board of Teaching Artist Journal and has written about arts education for The Kennedy Center, Chicago’s Project AIM, the Arts Education Partnership and The College Board.

Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf has been selected as Evaluation Partner for The Right Brain Initiative. In this role, she is collaborating with program staff to collect evidence of the initiative’s effectiveness and the impact of arts integrated learning on student success; this regional emphasis on measuring outcomes is another factor that distinguishes The Right Brain Initiative from previous arts education efforts. Dennie is principal researcher at WolfBrown, and also serves as Senior Scholar at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University. She trained as a researcher at Harvard Project Zero, where she led studies on the early development of artistic and symbolic capacities. She directed Project PACE (Projects in Active Cultural Engagement) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, an organization that focused on children, youth and families as vital, but often ignored, forces in cultural planning. More recently, Dennie has pioneered evaluation studies that build the capacities of organizations, funders and the communities they serve, co-authoring More Than Measuring, a longitudinal study of the effects of arts-based learning, sponsored by Big Thought, a 50-organization consortium in Dallas, Texas. Dennie has published widely on issues of assessment, evaluation, artistic and imaginative development. At the heart of her work is a commitment to increasing children and youth’s access to learning featuring inquiry, innovation and imagination both in and out of school.

”At the heart of this work is what’s best for kids,” said Marna Stalcup, Program Manager for The Right Brain Initiative. “As the saying goes, ‘it takes a village.’ We’re ready!”

For more information about The Right Brain Initiative, visit www.TheRightBrainInitiative.org.

Mary Bauer Communications Associate Regional Arts & Culture Council 108 NW 9th Avenue, Suite 300    Portland, OR 97209-3318 503.823.5426 FAX 503.823.5432 [email protected] www.racc.org