The Massachusetts Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE), founded in 1980 by representatives from the arts and education communities, grew from a desire to support arts education programs in public schools across Massachusetts. It formally merged with the National Arts and Learning Collaborative (NALC) to become Arts|Learning in 2007.  The Networking and Advocacy Group of A|L continues the work and programs of MAAE.

Over the years MAAE instituted successful public awareness campaigns, such as the “Strong Arts = Strong Schools,” which was designed to bring to the attention of parents, legislators, educators, and citizens the importance of arts education. A conference series called “Leading with the Arts,” shared best practices among Massachusettsarts educators. Each spring, MAAE honored individuals and organizations for exemplary achievement in arts education in a ceremony in various locations including at the Massachusetts State House. The annual “Champions of Arts Education” awards continue to the present under A|L’s auspices.

MAAE worked closely with the Massachusetts Board of Education (MBOE) to develop a strong, arts-based curriculum, and with the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) to advocate for the arts in the state.


  • MAAE is established.


  • MAAE incorporates as a non-profit organization in Massachusetts on April 1st, 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.”


  • 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.


  • 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).


  • 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.

2007-2009–Merger with NALC to become Arts|Learning

  • In 2007 MAAE undergoes a legal merger in which its mission, programs, and affiliation with the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network are merged with the National Arts and Learning Collaborative (NALC).
  • In 2009, this merger results in the newly named “Arts|Learning.”  A|L develops the Networking and Advocacy Group as one of three A|L divisions to reinvigorate arts education advocacy throughout the state, and to continue the important work started by MAAE.