Arts|Learning is an amalgam of several organizations. This page provides the history of the Massachusetts Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE), founded in 1980, and the National Arts and Learning Collaborative (NALC), which merged in 2007 to form Arts|Learning.
The MAAE and the NALC grew from a desire to support arts education programs in public schools across Massachusetts. The A|L Networking and Advocacy Group continues the work and programs of these organizations, including the MAAE’s annual Champions of Arts Education awards.
- MAAE is established by representatives from the arts and education communities.
- MAAE incorporates as a non-profit organization in Massachusetts on April 1, 1982.
- Massachusetts Board of Education adopts MAAE’s Arts in Education Plan.
- MAAE launches an annual recognition program with Outstanding Arts Educator and Arts Collaborative awards.
- The Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents adopts MAAE’s position paper: “The Role of the Arts in Massachusetts”.
- Eric Oddleifson created the Center for Arts in the Basic Curriculum (CABC) to carry forward his ideas about the need for the arts to be central to the missions of all schools. CABC had a small but stellar board that included Cognitive Psychologist and Harvard University Professor Howard Gardner and Harriet Fulbright, former Director of the President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities. CABC published a significant library of new thinking on the efficacy of education through the arts, including articles by Oddleifson and Perrin, which have been archived at New Horizons for Learning.
- Mr. Oddleifson became a trustee of Walnut Hill School, one of three independent residential high schools in the U.S. that offers a curriculum of pre-professional artistic training and academic excellence. At Walnut Hill, Mr. Oddleifson found a laboratory of education through the arts and progressive educational approaches led by Head of School Stephanie Perrin. The school wished to promote the concept of “education through the arts” to public schools and other organizations, and created the Center for Arts and Learning to explore that objective.
- The Massachusetts legislature passes the Education Reform Act. The arts (dance, music, theater, and visual arts) are included as a core subject. MAAE plays key role in advocating for arts as a core subject.
- The Massachusetts Association of School Committees partners with MAAE on the annual awards program.
- MAAE co-sponsors a statewide conference with the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
- MAAE and the Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE) develop and distribute an arts education survey.
- MAAE initiates membership dues and introduces tri-annual newsletter.
- MAAE board members serve on a committee to develop state arts standards. The Board of Education adopts an Arts Curriculum Framework in December.
- MAAE presents workshops on the use of the new arts framework in schools as well as a statewide conference at University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.
- MAAE implements the “Arts Education for Success Campaign,” which includes the distribution of the video,”Arts & Children: A Success Story,” to all of the state’s 350 school districts along with an advocacy package.
- MAAE launches its first website and hires a part-time staff person.
- MAAE board members serve on a committee to revise the Massachusetts Arts Curriculum Framework.
- To increase visibility, the annual awards ceremony moves to the Massachusetts State House and features additional categories: Legislator Leadership and Irene Buck Service to Arts Education; MAAE commissions its first artist to create the award object.
- MAAE solicits feedback during public meetings on the new draft of the Massachusetts Arts Curriculum Framework. The MA Board of Education adopts final framework in October.
- MAAE introduces additional award categories: Schools of Excellence, Excellence in School Administration, and Corporate/Business Support of Arts Education.
- MAAE enters into new partnership agreement with the Massachusetts Cultural Council and receives $10,000 grant.
- CABC merged with the Center for Arts and Learning to become the National Arts & Learning Foundation (NALF), a non profit organization housed on the Walnut Hill campus.
- MAAE secures free office space at Lesley University and hires a part-time Executive Director.
- MAAE successfully leads a coalition to preserve dance teacher certification.
- MAAE initiates its “STRONG ARTS = STRONG SCHOOLS” public awareness campaign and sponsors the first Arts Education Advocacy Day at the Massachusetts State House.
- A Media Support of Arts Education award is added to the annual awards program.
- The Massachusetts Cultural Council, MAAE, National Arts & Learning Collaborative (NALC) and the MA Department of Education develop a district-based arts education survey.
- MAAE co-sponsors the “Leading with the Arts” conference with NALC,Lesley University, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
- A part-time Administrative Director is hired.
- MAAE secures 3-year, $50,000 grant from an anonymous foundation.
- MAAE expands its geographic impact through new collaborations with the Western Massachusetts Arts Alliance and the Academy of Performing Arts (Cape Cod).
- NALF changed its name to the National Arts & Learning Collaborative (NALC) to more accurately reflect its approach to fulfilling its mission by creating partnerships and networks among schools and a variety of institutions, organizations and individuals, to accomplish its goals.
- The Massachusetts Cultural Council’s budget is cut by 62%, resulting in the elimination of its partnership with MAAE.
- Despite 91% reduction in funding, MAAE convenes an Arts Education Summit of representatives from K-12 education, higher education, and arts organizations to examine how the research compendium,”Critical Links,” could be implemented locally. MAAE presents follow-up workshops in Springfield and Cape Cod.
- A Student Essay Contest is added to the annual awards program.
- MAAE partners with the National Arts and Learning collaborative (NALC) and receives a 2-year Arts Service Organization merger grant from The Boston Foundation. MAAE moves to the Walnut Hill School in Natick to share an office with NALC. A full-time Program Assistant is hired to assist with both MAAE and NALC.
- MAAE, NALC, Lesley University and the Massachusetts Cultural Council hold the 1st annual Massachusetts Arts Education Partnership Institute. Over 180 people attend to hear national and local speakers present on research, funding and models of arts education.
- MAAE advocates for an arts requirement in MassCORE recommendations.
- NALC legally merged with the Massachusetts Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE) and became the state affiliate of the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network, a coalition of statewide non-profit Alliances for Arts Education working in partnership with the John F.Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to support policies, practices, programs, and partnerships that ensure the arts are an essential part of American K-12 education. The merger was made possible by The Boston Foundation. NALC established the Massachusetts Arts Education Collaborative to guide its statewide arts education advocacy efforts.
- NALC changed its name to Arts|Learning to indicate its wide range of programs related to arts, learning, and arts learning, without having to define or limit its geographical location in Massachusetts or nationally, and to merge all former NALC and MAAE activities under one new name.
- Arts|Learning moved to Medfield, Massachusetts, and has begun a long-term collaboration with the Lowell Mason House, where the A|L Offices will be located.