National Forum Held in Cleveland

Cleveland Metro Schools Share Story of Arts Education Renaissance

students painting a mural

Why was Cleveland, Ohio, an appropriate site for the Arts Education Partnership's Fall 2007 forum, Arts Integration: Theory, Practice and Lessons Learned? The Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) answered that question in a presentation about its vibrant arts education department and impressive array of community partners.

The district has engaged in a series of partnerships and collaborations over the last 10 years, said Tony Sias, executive director for the CMSD Department of Arts Education, and Karen M. Clark-Keys, director of visual arts and arts education curriculum. Most notable is ICARE (Initiative for Cultural Art in Education), which has supported artsfocused, knowledge integrative learning in 59 schools.

With funding from the Ford Foundation, the Cleveland Integrated Arts Collaborative, a consortium of CMSD and over 30 arts and cultural organizations, has launched the Art is Education initiative. The goal is to provide a systemic process for developing learning units and lessons centered around the offerings of Cleveland arts and culture providers. Sias has been working with a number of organizations, such as the 35-year-old University Circle Linking Education and Discovery (LEAD) program, to align their offerings with both CMSD priorities and state standards.

With funding from the Cleveland Foundation and the Gund Foundation, the Department of Arts Education is completing an arts education strategic plan, which should be made public by the end of the year.

Learn More

What is high-quality arts integration?

Arts integration refers to instruction that incorporates content, processes and techniques from one or more arts and at least one other discipline. Approaches vary, but one major mark of quality is a design that leads to significant learning in each discipline.

How is it achieved?

Check these resources.

Arts for Learning, Young Audiences

Chicago Arts Partnership in Education

The Arts Literacy Project

Southeast Center for Education in the Arts

How did CMSD do it?

"Long-term team planning has been important," said Clark-Keys. "Schools are thinking more strategically about bringing in the arts. They are getting better at using conceptual themes as building blocks." Clark-Keys also stressed the importance of both standards-based and assessed learning in the arts and knowledge integrative learning through the arts.

Three arts education partners who also played a major role shared the podium with Clark-Keys and Sias. Marsha Dobrzynski, executive director for Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio, cited the importance of the long-term relationships represented by the Cleveland Integrated Arts Collaborative. Her organization, which manages the ICARE program for CMSD, also has been facilitating the Art is Education initiative. Deena Epstein, senior officer for arts with the George Gund Foundation, and Kathleen Cerveny, program director for arts and culture with the Cleveland Foundation, told of the extended dialogue among funders that helped set the district on the path of arts integration.

"As we funders began asking the right questions," said Epstein, "we started seeing better proposals. The programs became more student-focused." While affirming the important role funders play, however, she also stressed the need to turn the work over to the schools.

Learn more about the Arts Education Partnership Fall 2007 Forum.

Read more about arts integration.

This article was published in October 2007, Volume 4, No 1.

OAC logo ODE logo
Editor: Deborah Vrabel
Contributors/Advisors: Mary Campbell-Zopf, Ohio Arts Council
Nancy Pistone, Ohio Department of Education