Saturday, June 16, 2012

National Goverors Association Presents New Engines of Growth: Part 5, Delivering a Better Prepared Workforce

This is the fifth in a series of posts discussing a study released in May 2012 by the National Governors Association titled "New Engines of Growth: Five Roles for Arts, Culture and Design".

The report makes the argument that arts, culture, and design can assist states with economic growth because they can:

1. Provide a fast-growth, dynamic industry cluster
2. Help mature industries become more competitive
3. Provide the critical ingredients for innovative places
4. Catalyze community revitalization; and
5. Deliver a better-prepared workforce.

My first post discussed The Industry Cluster, and I showed how the newly formed networking group The Ashland Arts Alliance serves to solve many of the issues raised in forming and accelerating the growth of a creative industry cluster.

My second post covered how creativity can help mature industries become more competitive through creative marketing, bolstering tourism, and innovative manufacturing.

The third post talked about:
  • Launching cultural districts and arts enterprise zones.
  • Creating spaces for artists and other creative talent to cluster, interact, and thrive.
  • Integrating arts, culture, and design into innovation hubs that encourage collaboration.
The fourth post talked about investing in infrastructure through creating artists spaces and artist relocation programs.

Now we get to chapter 5, and how artists can be used to create a more creative work force.

In one of my early posts on this blog, "Education and the Arts", I comment on a study from Americans for the Arts which reports that:

85 percent of surveyed business executives indicated that they are currently having difficulty recruiting individuals who possess creative ability. The demand for creative people will increase as U.S. firms pursue innovation.

I also comment in my post regarding an National Endowment for the Arts article on Arts Education regarding the way No Child Left Behind has decimated the arts in schools:

The U.S. Department of Education painted a somewhat bleak picture of the state of arts education in America’s schools this week. According to new findings - the first government survey in a decade that tracks the availability of arts in schools – fewer elementary schools are offering visual arts, dance and drama classes than during a decade ago.

Chapter Five of the New Engines of Growth study begins:

The art and design disciplines teach many of the skills that support innovation and high productivity and thus support high-wage jobs. Those skills include everything from understanding the creative process, to collaborating on inno- vative breakthroughs, to knowing when and how to fix a problem on an assembly line. Economic development, education, and arts and culture agencies are natural partners in workforce development. Areas in which such partnerships can provide benefits include:

  • Setting formal requirements for arts and creativity in K–12 education standards;
  • Integrating arts into K–12 cross-curricular learning;
  • Engaging at-risk youth in art and sustainability activities; and 
  • Including the arts and design in adult education and workforce training.
The Study speaks to not only incorporating more arts education into the core standards for K-12, but also teaching the arts in conjunction with language, science, and history. As a concrete example of this, I am in conversations with a young local school teacher who wants to develope themed environments in her classroom to enhance her literature lessons. One of the projects would be to create an African landscape in the classroom to support studying (recently deceased) Ray Bradbury's "The Veldt". I'm pursuing finding funding to create an immersive display that can not only used in her classrooms, but could travel to other schools, possibly throughout the state.

As for engaging at-risk youth in art, I've proposed teaming up individual artists and arts educators with existing non-profits in order to secure funding for after school and summer arts programs. I'm hoping to have a local meeting about the very topic within the next month.

Finally, including the arts and design in adult education and workforce training is another thing I'm working towards. I have repeatedly said that much of the knowledge I've obtained through the years came through mentor type relationships. One of my goals with the Ashland Arts Alliance is to pair up experienced professionals with those who have an interest in learning in "mentor/apprentice" type relationships. "Passing it on" is an essential part of the philosophy of the Alliance.

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