AAEC Projects

Rural Arts Initiative Project

AAEC’s new Rural Arts Initiative (RAI) Project

AAEC’s new Rural Arts Initiative (RAI) Project

What is the Rural Arts Initative (RAI)

Rural Arts Initiative was a new endeavor of AAEC, with a plan to recruit 5 rural Alaskan districts to join us and work together to expand arts and cultural arts in their schools and communities.  We spread the word to smaller rural districts and eventually selected the five districts listed below:

Alaska Gateway
Lower Kuskokwim
Lower Yukon

The next step was to hire an RAI Coordinator and we were very lucky to find Maite Agopian who was well-qualified and looking for a little more work!

The overarching goal of the Rural Arts Initiative (RAI) is to expand arts access, equity and quality for Alaskan rural students by increasing the competence and confidence of educators to more fully integrate the arts.

Goals for the Rural Arts Initiative in Alaska
•Build and support district educators and community partners to be leaders and advocates for increased arts
learning for all students in each district
•Develop a multi-year, multi-dimensional Arts Action Plan with each district
•Co-Sponsor place-based and culture-based professional development in the arts suited to the needs and
interests of each district
•Nurture other local/regional partners to be active supporters and resources in project activities

Important Events

In January 2023, we convened the first meeting of the entire cohort. We met in the conference room of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, which was wonderful.  At this time representatives worked through the AAEC ‘continuum’ that helped them identify district strengths and weaknesses.  Each district planned to hold an event during the spring and plan for one at the beginning of the school year.

At this point in time, AAEC was working off of a small grant from the Alaska State Council for the Arts.  Since then our Sustainability committee has bee actively applying for grants to support these districts, and many are excelling on their own account.

Support and Awards

•  Alaska State Council on the Arts, Adaptation and Innovation Grant, 2022.  Funds used to support convening.

•. Block Foundation, April 2024.  Funds will be used to support Arts and Cultural Arts events in one or more rural districts.

Below is a recent article from Nome: Nome RAI Arts article

Also below is a recent article from Skagway:Skagway art article

The Data Project

Data Project Summary and Description

Data Project Summary and Description

The Alaska Arts Education Consortium, together with support from other organizations in Alaska, applied for and received an NEA grant (April of 2022) to support the DATA Project. Or as is titled in the grant: Alaska Arts Education Data Project: A Collective Impact Initiative on America’s Last Frontier

Project Summary

AAEC and consortium partners believe that arts and culturally responsive teaching practices are essential for all Alaskan students. This belief, coupled with sparse data and the lack of a statewide coordinated arts education plan led AAEC to propose this project with DEED and ASCA. A statewide data project will help communities understand how students do, or do not, have access to learning in and through the arts.

As of December 2023,  we are finishing up Phase 1 and have received and accepted a grant for Phase 2 which will being on January 1, 2024.

Project Description

Phase One (July 1, 2022 — December 31, 2023)

The goals for 18 month PHASE ONE included:

(1) Gather statewide leaders to assess the arts education landscape – an unprecedented activity in Alaska,
(2) Mobilize committees to respond to current data, and
(3) Develop a Logic Model including a complementary, well-designed communication network to serve as a common conduit for collecting and sharing arts and data ideas, updates, outcomes, and developments, in Alaska and beyond.

Three committees were formed at the initial convening in October of 2022, and these committees have been meeting over zoom for the past year.

–Data – to outline a data collection system to better reflect the scope and inclusion of the Alaska Arts Standards & Standards for Culturally Responsive Schools;

–Equity – to suggest culturally responsive strategies that enable equitable access to arts education in remote, underserved Native villages;

–Partnerships- to identify community partners in regions across Alaska to support an increase in arts learning for all.

A culminating meeting for Phase 1 was held in early December over Zoom and Phase 2 was launched in mid-February with an in-person meeting in Anchorage.  Below is a photo of those present and some of those who joined by zoom.

As in all AAEC meetings, the arts are a hands-on integrated part of every day

The work of Phase 1 was reviewed including the Logic Model, and working groups were formed to advance the goals of the grant.  Comprehensive data will guide how to bridge equity and access between urban and rural sites, and bring to light how to make arts learning culturally relevant and engaging, wherever students live.

Phase Two (January 1, 2024 –June 30, 2025)

The AAEC has a unique history and capacity, and together with its partners, will initiate regional professional development in PHASE TWO, using data as the baseline for developing school and community action plans that are realistic and achievable.

We held an in-person convening in Anchorage on February 19th and 20th, at which the drive to proceed with a survey, analysis and activity was organized.  Everyone joined a working group, and we all agreed it was a powerful kick-off for the Phase Two grant.

In-person and on-zoom attendees to the Phase Two convening in February 2024.

This data will come from a statewide survey on the State of Arts Education.  This survey was sent to all Superintendents on April 8, 2024 and will close within a month.  This extensive survey requests information on what is and is not happening in each district.

The results will be analyzed and shared widely and used to promote art education and hopefully leverage for some state or local requirements.

Using data as the basis for deeper planning also gives us the opportunity to analyze how and where inclusion of the arts influences student risk and protective factors, and increases student participation in creative, healthy activities. Data informed arts programming benefits student culture, community connections, resiliency, an communication, all vital to health and well-being. This project will add value to education in Alaska and be shared in Indian Country as a means of amplifying the voices of indigenous peoples in national discussions and forums. In the end, data informed planning will put partners in sync with the NEA’s vision and goal of developing the nextgeneration of creative and innovative thinkers and citizens.