A Conversation with Arts Academic Advisory Committee Member Teresa Reed

Monday, January 3, 2011

This article first appeared in Connection in October 2010.

Teresa ReedThe College Board is accepting applications for its first Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts. This award will recognize and celebrate the achievements of six K–12 schools across the country that have implemented an arts program that promotes student learning and creativity in exemplary and innovative ways.

One school from each of the College Board’s six regions will be awarded a grant of $3,000. One of the regional winners also will be named the national winner and receive an additional $1,000. The awards were created following a recommendation from the National Task Force on the Arts in Education. (To learn more about the award, visit artsaward.collegeboard.org.)

Teresa Reed, an associate professor of music at the University of Tulsa, is also a member of the Arts Academic Advisory Committee. She spoke recently about the enthusiastic response to the award, her own arts education and hopes for the arts in American schools.

Q. What are you hoping this award will do for arts programs?

A. The reach of the College Board is so broad; I think there is a built-in prestige with this award. Our hunch is that there are innovative and excellent programs already out there, and we want to support them. We wanted the award itself to advocate for innovation in the arts, to encourage institutions in their efforts at interaction across institutions. We’re seeking applicants who are developing partnerships between schools in order to create multiple layers of a program.

Q. What kind of response have you been getting?

A. It’s been great. We had our first applications coming in before the end of September, about two weeks after we announced it, which is pretty quick because the application had a number of components.

Q. What was your experience with the arts as a student?

A. My experience in the arts in school was a very rich one. I was educated in public schools in Gary, Ind., in the 70s and 80s and there was no economic pressure to downsize the arts at all. The programs in my school and church set the groundwork for my life’s work. I see now that it was a privileged place and time. It was assumed that the arts were part of a well-rounded education.

Q. What changes have you seen as you’ve become an educator?

A. It was a time of privilege in my childhood that no one asked why we needed theater or other arts. It was assumed. Now we’re in this time of competition for budgets, space and time. The scary part is we don’t know what it looks like to lose this part of education completely, and I don’t think we want to. I shudder to think about the cultural literacy, the sensitivity and creativity that we’d miss out on. All of that makes me see even more the importance of the work that we’re doing here.

Q. How will this award and other advocacy work help?

A. As artists, we tend to get focused on our work specifically. It’s been important to see this proactive, conglomerate working for the arts. I’ve enjoyed working with colleagues in dance, theater, visual arts and other areas, and we can help fight these battles together. We’re in a common struggle to create policies that are good for our students, good for our disciplines and good for our country.

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