Arts|Learning is an amalgum of several organizations. This page gives the history of NALC, the National Arts and Learning Collaborative, which in 2007 merged with the Massachusetts Alliance for Arts Education (see separate page for that history).


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 is 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.


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.


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.


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.